Tithe in the Catholic Church
Sometime ago the General Overseer of a popular Pentecostal Church in Nigeria was quoted to have remarked that those who do not pay tithe will not enter heaven. Expectedly, the comment drew sneer and condemnation from most Nigerians that commented on the remark. The fact is that payment or failure to pay tithe is neither the ticket to heaven nor condemnation to hell. The Catholic understanding of tithe payment is not different from what the Bible teaches. Tithing is an Old Testament injunction to the Israelites to give 10% of their agricultural produce and the livestock reared, for the support of the Levites who were responsible for the spiritual care of the people, some relevant passages include: Leviticus 27: 30 – “All tithes on land, levied on the produce of the soil or on the fruit trees, belong to Yahweh, they are consecrated to Yahweh….Numbers 18: 25- 26 says : “When from the Israelites you receive the tithe which I have given you from them as your heritage, you will set a portion of this aside for Yahweh: a tithe of the tithe…” Deuteronomy 14: 24 declares that: “Every year you must take a tithe of what your field produce from what you have sown in the presence of Yahweh your God, in the place where he chooses to give his name a home…” Payment of tithe is for the benefit of the one faithful to it because it is a source of blessing to the individual. Malachi 3: 10-12 says: “Bring the tithes in full to the treasury, so that there is food in my house; put me to the test now like this, says Yahweh Sabbaoth, and see if I do not open the floodgates for you and pour out an abundant blessing for you. For your sakes, I shall forbid the locust to destroy the produce of your soil or prevent the vine from bearing fruit in your field, says Yahweh Sabbaoth…” Abraham paid tithe to Melchizedek cf. Genesis 14: 20. Prophet Amos 4: 4 speaks about tithe and warns about the danger of ignoring it. Prophet Malachi 3: 6 -10 rebukes those who do not pay tithe and warns defaulters against incurring divine curse. While the New Testament does not specifically command payment of tithes, it recommends that contribution in the house of God must be in accordance with one’s income cf. 1 Cor. 16: 2, and that it should be done generously and cheerfully cf. 2 Cor. 9: 7.
For us Catholics payment of tithe and all other monetary contributions are voluntary and never imposed by fear or threat of hell fire. Canon Law 222 paragraph 1 states that: “Christ’s faithful have the obligation to provide for the needs of the Church, so that the Church has available to it those things which are necessary for divine worship, for the apostolic and charitable work and for the worthy support of its ministers.” Those who freely give to the support of the work of God never lack or regret such. Those who are faithful to the payment of tithe open the flood gate of divine blessing upon themselves and all they lay their hands on. In our parish community less than 30% of the adult population have tithe cards, the break down shows that the number of members with cards are: St. Anthony Society 13, Sacred Heart Society 12, Holy Apostles 12, Holy Family 9, St. Jude 4, CKC 2, and Youth 7, the total is 59 in an adult population of about 200. There are some parishioners who choose to pay their tithes without putting it in the parish card. The Church respects the intention of the individual person with regards to whether to make the tithe payment anonymous or to have record. For both means of payment, confidentiality is guaranteed, however tithe cards are useful for an individual to monitor his/her faithfulness to this Biblical injunction. All of you our esteemed parishioners are highly appreciated for your generous contributions and monetary commitments to the Church of God. May God richly reward you and crown you with eternal life. I wish you all a fruitful and grace filled working week.
Rev. Fr. Peter Oluseyi Adeyemi,