Someone is Me and You
By Penny Wiegert
The idea that the people hold the power of the purse strings is a very American idea. The saying itself dates to 1787 to Massachusetts delegate Elbridge Gerry (later of gerrymandering infamy) who promoted the idea that the power of the purse should be given to Congress, stating that “the people ought to hold the purse-strings.” People all over have used the quote “power of the purse strings” when they refer to many things whether it be government spending, household spending or personal spending.
But how did the money get in the purse to begin with? With work and dedication by someone, no doubt. But a quick disciple’s response would be to say that all things come from God and therefore belong to God. This idea is symbolized well in the Old Testament in Exodus and Nehemiah which talk about giving offerings to God from the “first fruits” to acknowledge all that God provides. “We will not neglect the house of our God,” it says at the end of Nehemiah 11:40.
Money and possessions are said to be referenced anywhere from 800 to 2300 times in the Bible according to which source you use. In most, the overriding theme is that money should be shared to accomplish good, help others and further God’s message.
Finding that balance between the power of the purse strings and our God-given responsibility to share is always worthy of reflection, especially when the giving is difficult spiritually or financially. 
That’s why it is distressing when someone calls or writes or expounds on social media sites that they are “not giving another dime” to the Church or the diocese. I wonder if the secular part of their sensibility blurs or takes over the duty to God? 
Receiving the gifts of the Church through the sacraments—the holy Eucharist, the anointing of the sick, baptism, etc., and not giving anything in return is very confusing to me. 
Faith without responsibility is to me like saying you are angry at a farmer or a cow and declare that you will no longer buy dairy products. You will continue to use dairy products, just not pay for them. Try telling the next person in the checkout line that they need to pay for your milk so you can make your point and exert your power. 
Someone has to support the mission of the local Church and the reach and teaching to the world that God is savior. 
Someone has to keep the electricity, water and gas on at the parish. Someone has to help buy candles and hosts, keep the priests paid, the lawn mowed and the snow shoveled.
On the diocesan level, someone has to pay for such things as Catholic Charities advocating for the elderly, serving the poor with food, referrals for job training and affordable housing. 
Someone has to help pay for mental health counseling, assisting refugees and helping those in pregnancy. Someone has to help educate the permanent deacons who faithfully staff our parishes, the vocation office who helps prepare priests for ordination and help the office of bishop complete his obligations to the local and universal Church.
Someone has to use their first fruits to fund our Catholic schools and religious education programs and train our catechists to keep the faith thriving. Someone has to help our priests and women religious in their retirement in thanks for so much sacrifice and service.
To stop giving a financial gift to the Church doesn’t make the need or the bills go away. It just readjusts the burden so that few pay for the privileges of many. A troubling witness to be sure. Someone contributes. Someone doesn’t and doesn’t again. Someone suffers.
Someone has to give a tithe as part of their faith whether they are happy, sad, mad or confused. Giving back to God what is God’s is part of our call, our witness and our hope.
We just need to determine that we all are someone in the family of God and life of the Catholic Church which loves and serves so many some ones each day. 
I pray I always remember that someone is me.