Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 24, 2003
Share your bounty and so be blessed
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
In so many ways, he looks like a character actor from central casting. With his oversized ten gallon hat and country-western wardrobe, Andrew J. Whittaker might make you laugh until you learn that he is the lucky fellow who, already a millionaire by virtue of his construction company, went on to win a lottery prize of $314.9 million.
It's the largest undivided lottery winnings ever. The sheer numbers give you pause.
But as happy a story as it is, it's even better when a winner knows what to do with his wealth.
In all his meetings with the press, he has reiterated the same theme. Every blessing, he said, "is a gift from the Lord." And by his determination, God gives blessings so we'll "give many back." And that's what he intends to do.
First, he started writing checks to his churches. He's been a member of three, so he's dividing ten percent of his winnings among the congregations he's prayed with over the years. He figures that since God gave him the blessings, he should remember those who nurtured his relationship with the Lord.
Whittaker believes, "I don't have luck, I'm blessed. I just want to thank God for letting me pick the right numbers, or letting the machine pick the right numbers for me."
And it's his hope that the churches use his winnings to help those who are most needful.
He said: "I'm getting really excited, because of the good works I can do with this. . . . This will really do good for the poor. I hope it goes to especially help people who want to better themselves and to have a better life."
He also said that because of bad weather and slow business, he'd had to lay off a number of his construction workers just before Christmas. Now, he plans to hire them back. Finally, he said that like any family, he had relatives who didn't always have it so easy. He'd also use his resources to see that no member of his extended family would fall between the cracks.
So there you have it. A winner who remembers that (a) every grace is a blessing from God; (b) helping our churches helps them to help others; (c) it's always right to remember the people others forget, like the unemployed; and (d) charity should include members of our families who may not be as richly blessed as we are.
Now, few of us will ever have the opportunity for giving on a scale like Andrew J. Whittaker. But few of us wouldn't be able to say that we are blessed in some ways by having gifts that others don't.
And that's our opportunity: to share the things we've been given with other people. Someday, Whittaker will die, like every one else. No amount of wealth spares anyone from that. And, he will not have been able to carry his lottery earnings along with him to the judgment seat of God.
But based on his plans these days, I'd say he doesn't have much to fear.
Some of the greatest theological minds suggest that what we carry with us to the next life are the generous blessings and gifts we've shared with others here on earth.
When your time comes to stand before God, the special good that you have done, the loving-kindness you have shown will be the greatest things you can take along.
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, Being a Good Neighbour, write: The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY, 10017; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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