June 10th, 2017
Go Light Your World! Living God’s Mercy
Yesterday featured a very eventful and exciting conclusion of the day. With my Mission Trip Team at St. Gregory the Great we teamed up with the Buffalo Dream Center to interact with people doing street ministry. Never in my life have I ever gone out on the streets to interact with some people caught up in the burdens of homelessness. Before heading into this territory of uncharted waters my first prayer was as followed:
Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for reward, save that of knowing that I do your will.
Another prayer I held with my heart was that those whom we served would see Christ in us and that we would see Christ in them. Our mission first began and our goal was to meet and greet as many homeless and underprivileged people in the downtown area and hand out tickets for a free meal, hand out snacks, and pray for those falling on such hard times. As we first went out together in groups of two I was reminded of the importance that this is what God commissions us to do. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set liberty to those who are oppressed.” (Luke 4:18-19). It was my hope that I would be able to treat the people that I encountered with the dignity they all deserved. Regardless of what they might’ve done in their past or the choices they’ve made but to truly become a beacon of God’s love and show Mercy and Compassion on those oppressed.
So often our world is quick to judge and slow to give people a chance. We are filled with pride saying, “their problem is not my problem,” and in doing so we become dismissive of the needs of others. Have we forgotten that we are all in this together and belong to one another? We all are living this life together and we cannot be indifferent to the needs of those less fortunate than we are. All it really takes is one little encounter that can bring about so much hope! You don’t have to give money to someone but all it takes is just a simple “hello how are you doing?” One acknowledgement of someone by looking them in the eyes and realizing that they too are a Son or Daughter of God.
St. Teresa of Ávila said “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassionately on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this section of (Love for the Poor 2443-2463) and I highly recommend reading this section. The section features what some the greatest of saints have said about this problem of poverty that we have faced throughout many centuries. One thing is certain, if we are to become saints we much learn from the very best through an intense study of their lives. One saint featured in this section is St. Rose of Lima, who writes “When we serve the poor and the sick, we serve Jesus. We must not fail to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus.” Where is it that you see Jesus in need today in your area of the world? What practical plan can you come up with that will help to console the burdens weighing on His Most Sacred Heart?
As a Catholic myself, I must say along with the Eucharist there is so much beauty with our faith. If you ever were to walk into a Catholic Church you cannot escape it. Towering Cathedrals, beautifully painted murals, marble statues, and all the works of art created to give right praise unto God. It is truly magnificent and no words in the human vocabulary would accurately describe how breath taking it is to observe such Heavenly scenes. One thing is certain, as members of the Church we too can live our very lives in such a beautiful saintly way. The Church is not just a building, but it’s God’s Holy people, filled with the Light of Christ by virtue our Baptism and we cannot sit back and be passive to a world that needs us so much. A world that so often experiences so much darkness but can be illuminated if we just let our candles shine!
Pope Francis in his latest apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium writes “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security,” he wrote. “I do not want a church concerned with being at the center and then ends up by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures.” His quote pretty much sums up what Catholic Social Teaching is all about and so often I firmly believe we forget many of these themes.
One major them is what is called as the Preferential Option for the Poor.
The Preferential Option for the Poor is a basic moral test based upon how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
It is true that if we go out and serve the very least of our brother’s and sister’s then we will be blessed because we will be serving Christ. At first there might be an uneasiness a queasy feeling of anxiety of the unknown but when we let go of clinging on to self and offer it into the hands of our Lord we can become the hands and feet of Christ in service to our God. Real change and possibilities can be created and we will be one more step closer to using the gifts of the Holy Spirit. AMDG
Lord please forgive us for those moments when we’ve passed you by. Forgive us when we’ve seen someone in need of assistance and turned the other way only to realize later that it was YOU, forgive us when we try to suppress your voice when you commission us to “go out” and we refuse to listen. Help us to love more deeply, more sincerely, more intensely so that we can go Light up our World!