Sunday, April 10, 2022

Jesus' Obedience and Mercy for the Love of Us: Homily for Palm Sunday, Cycle C

     
As we enter into Holy Week Luke’s Passion of the Lord provides us with a beautiful model of Christian discipleship:  being a humble servant, in  obedience to God’s will, and extending mercy and forgiveness.    

    As I reflected on the Passion, Jesus’ obedience acts of mercy really stood out to me.    In obedience Jesus prayed at the Mount of Olives, ”Father, If you willing, take this cup away from me, still not my will, but yours be done”.  Jesus final words before his death on the cross was, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” In obedience with the Father he died to save us. In union with our humanity he suffered a painful death.

    In his mercy, Jesus healed the servant’s ear that was injured by Peter’s sword.  Jesus also forgave his executioners stating, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”.    Jesus was offering his mercy to others as he was being persecuted by them.

As Jesus was dying on the cross, he continued to extend his mercy.The repentant criminal, known as Saint Dismas, asks Jesus, “Remember me when you comes into your kingdom.” Jesus responds to his request, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”.    Jesus extends his mercy to a man who admitted he was justly condemned



What a beautiful example of Jesus obedience to the Father’s will, giving his life to take on our sins, and extending mercy so we can be reconciled with the Father.   Jesus didn’t come to condemn us.  He came to save us by through his mercy and love.  We just need to humbly ask for his mercy.


As we enter into Holy Week let’s be instruments of God’s mercy.  

We all know people who have been away from the Church because of something they did in the past. They don’t feel worthy of God’s mercy.  Pray for those who don’t feel worthy of God’s mercy that they be open to return to him.  He loved them so much that gave his life to free them from the sins by forgiving them.


Why not be an instrument of God’s love and invite them to join us for Holy week services or to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Holy Thursday’s foot washing is a beautiful witness of Jesus humble service extending his love and mercy.   Let’s ask for the grace to be merciful to others, as Jesus was, as we continue to receive the Eucharist.

 

Monday, March 21, 2022

Repent with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving and bear fruit to please God - Homily for 3rd Sunday of Lent

Today we heard about Moses and his encounter withGod in the burning bush on Mount Horeb.         This story seems a bit unrelated to the Gospel call to repent and bear fruit.  How was it, that Moses came to Mount Horeb to encounter God?    A little background may help.

The people of Israel were enslaved by Egyptians, and they had grown so numerous that Pharoah ordered all first-born Hebrew males to be killed. Moses’ mother feared for her child so she put him in a basket to float down the river hoping he would be rescued.  Pharaoh’s daughter found him, and she raised him as her own child in Pharoah’s house.  When Moses reached adulthood, he experienced the cruelty of an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave and in anger killed the Egyptian thinking no one would find out.  But the act became known, and Pharoah ordered Moses to be killed. Moses fled from Egypt and went to Midian as a fugitive in fear of punishment for the crime of murder.

Moses was an outlaw, but God gave him a second chance and revealed himself on Mount Horeb in the land of Midian.  God chose Moses to bear fruit in leading the people of Israel to freedom out of slavery from the Egyptians.  God was patient and merciful to Moses trusting him to redeem himself and carry out God’s commands to rescue the people of Israel.

Don’t we all need second chances in our own?     The season of Lent helps us to do so.       The practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving helps us to make changes so repent and bear fruit for God.

In the Gospel today the people asked Jesus about two tragedies, Galileans killed by Pilate and the tower of Siloam falling that killed 18 people. These misfortunes were thought to be judgement by God for these people due their sinfulness.  But this was not the case.   Jesus was warning them that they should not be worried judging others sinfulness, but rather their own sins and lest the same thing happen to them.

Jesus then used the parable of the fig tree to make the point of their own need to


repent with the help of God’s patience and mercy.         In the parable we’re told a person has been coming for three years and the fig tree still had not yielded any fruit, so he wanted it cut down.        But it was nine years of waiting since it takes three years of growth before a fig tree bears fruit and the next three years of fruits are dedicated to God.   The gardener wants a second change for the fig tree to see if it responds with patience and the proper care to bear fruit but agrees that it could be cut down if it does not do so.

The gardener in the parable is Jesus and we are the fig trees. There may be seasons in our lives that we aren’t bearing fruit. The annual season of Lent gives to help us to bear the fruit that pleases God. The tools to cultivate and fertilize us are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These practices help us to focus on others rather than ourselves. As we pray and fast, we can offer intentions to overcome evils in the world. Many times, we hear in the Bible of prayer and fasting in repentance for wrongs that has been done, such as when King David repented for his actions with Bathsheba.  

An evil occurring in our world we can offer intentions of our Lenten practices is the war on Ukraine. Sometimes we can feel like there isn’t anything we can do for terrible situations like this. But our prayer and fasting can be powerful if we do them for the sake of others. Consider praying a rosary and giving up meat on Fridays for Ukraine.We can of course give alms to help those in Ukraine. While we are offering these intentions, we are also making changes in our own lives focusing on other so we can bear fruit, in being loving and merciful like our Lord.

I went through a time myself about 20 years ago where I was not bearing fruit and was solely focused on myself. I was caught up in the world of corporate success that was yielding financial gain and recognition, but I was emotionally drained and stressed. I did not have much of a relationship with Jesus at the time. During Lent I was invited to attend a Welcome retreat multiple times, but I did not want to take the time away from my job or family.

I finally received a personal invitation to attend and signed up for the retreat since I had not done anything for Lent. Reluctantly I went on the retreat with the plan of only staying a few hours. I just did not have the time for God, but God had the time for me. He gave me the second chance to make changes I needed to repent and help put Jesus first in my life and bear the fruit he called me to bear.  This helped lead me a daily relationship with Jesus in prayer, strengthened my marriage and family, and eventually led to discerning the diaconate.

I pray that this Lent that we are all open to a second chance from God, and that the practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving help us bear fruit that pleases God. 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Love your enemies to build the Kingdom of God - Homily, 7th Sunday, Cycle C

 The first reading from the Book of Samuel today is a good example of loving our enemies.  A little background on Samuel may help.  Saul had been anointed by Samuel as the King of Israel, but Saul had lost God’s favor in not following his commands. Samuel was then sent at the Lord’s direction to anoint another future King and David had found favor with God. David served under Saul, killing Goliath, and leading his armies with great success.  The people of Israel held David in high esteem causing Saul to become so jealous he decided to kill David. Saul’s army of three thousand men were sent to pursue and kill David. 

This brings us to the today’s reading where David encounters Saul along with all his soldiers asleep. This would be the perfect opportunity for David get rid of his enemy and, Abishai, encourages David to use Saul’s own spear to kill him. But David refuses as his heart was turned to God.  David knew that Saul was God’s anointed and would not harm him What appeared to be a victory in the eyes of David’s troops, was an injustice in his own heart threat. He wanted to follow the Lord, who is kind and merciful as we heard in today’s Psalm.

This does not sound like the plot of a movie would play out in today’s world.

If an enemy is trying to kill someone, they would surely kill the enemy if delivered into their hands.  Our culture calls us to take justice into our own hands.

Don’t get mad, get even. Take revenge on your enemies. 

Jesus is giving us a different message from the world. He wants us to bring about His kingdom to conquer the world. The way we do this is to love. Love our enemies.  Turn the other check if someone strikes you. If someone takes your cloak, also give them your tunic. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

This sounds impossible, but if we recall the Beatitudes, we heard last week we will be blessed if we follow Jesus’ ways. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.

I recently watched a movie called a “Father’s Legacy” that had an unexpected theme of loving your enemies. A young man down on his luck gets fired from his job and then finds out


his fiancĂ©’ is pregnant.  He doesn’t know how he is going to support his new child and decides to rob his former employer out of revenge. During the crime, he is shot by a security guard, but escapes with the money. He drives off to an isolated house deep in the woods seeking help. He breaks into the house and holds the old man living in the house at gunpoint demanding help or he will kill him. The old man provides some first aid supplies for the young man, and he eventually passes out. So, what does the old man do? After taking his gun away, he washes the man’s wound, bandages him, and puts a blanket over him to sleep. He doesn’t call the police. The scene of the next morning finds the old man cooking breakfast for him. The old man senses there is something going on with the young man beyond the crime he committed.  You’ll have to watch the movie yourself to find out the rest of the story. I found it to be an interesting story of how loving your enemy can change a person’s life.

So how is it possible to counter the way of the world? It’s impossible to do this on our own. If we rely on our human nature alone it would truly be a struggle. But through the Church we’re given the power of Jesus’s Spirit, the last Adam, to overcome our human nature. We receive the grace of the Holy Spirit through baptism and confirmation. The power of Jesus in the Eucharist nourishes us to become like Him. We’re healed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation when we’ve failed to love, so we can again love again as Jesus disciples.

We all know people who are hard to love. Even the greatest Saints struggled with this. Saint Therese of Lisieux, also known as Little Flower, was one of them. She is a doctor of the Church who lived in the 20th century and is known for her little way of love.  She struggled immensely with one older sister who was always mean to her.  Therese would always respond to her with a smile, kind word, or at worst case just turning the other way. Therese said she was able to love this sister by being attracted to Jesus who was hidden in the depth of her soul.

            Through these gifts of the Church sacraments, we’re given the grace to love as God loves. So, let’s all be counter cultural loving our enemies, turning the other check, and doing to others as we would like, to bring about God’s Kingdom into the world

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The ultimate recreation: Hearing the Word of God! Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C

 We come to Church for many reasons.    To receive Jesus in the Eucharist. To come together as a community as the Body of Christ. And also, to hear of the Word of God.

Hearing is a gift from God that we are given that provides us many capabilities.            We can communicate with others.  It can protects us from danger. We can learn new things.  We are entertained. It can be relaxing.  Hearing is a form of recreation as we listen to music, stories, and shows. Many of us listen to the radio, computer, and phone for recreation. Recreation is something we need in our lives I looked up the definition of recreation which is to create a new, refresh and restore. I like to think of hearing the Word of God as the ultimate form of recreation, because it creates a new. Because when God speaks, he creates.

The closing words of the Jesus in the Gospel today was: “Today this Scripture Passage is fulfilled in your hearing”. This is the beginning of Jesus public ministry in the Gospel of Luke.


Jesus was announcing the Kingdom of God had arrived. We are now in Ordinary time which will focus on learning about who Jesus is and how to be his disciple. His announcement to the people in the synagogue in Nazareth was extremely good news. Jesus reads from the Prophet Isaiah which states that he will Bring glad tidings to the poor. Liberty to captives. Sight to the blind.  Let the oppressed go free. Proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

This was the announcement of a Jubilee Year, something that occurred every 50 years in Jewish tradition as proclaimed by God. During a Jubilee year slaves were set free.    Land that was taken by others was returned to their original owners.  Debts were forgiven.  Those who were oppressed were vindicated.  This should have been joyful news to those who heard those words from Jesus that he was fulfilling the Scripture. This was a familiar scripture passage to the Jewish people that heard it.  They were awaiting for a Messiah to rescue them from oppression. Did the people who heard the word receive it with joy and gratitude? Some may have, but many did not.  We’ll hear more about that next week.  

As we follow Jesus throughout the year we’ll hear about his miracles, healing, and casting out demons. Jesus means what he says. When we come to Mass each week we will have an opportunity for recreation as we hear the Word of God. If we listen carefully to the Word of God receive it with joy and gratitude, reflect on it, and let it penetrate our heart we can help recreate our world.  Jesus came in the Spirit of the Lord and was anointed to bring glad tidings to the poor.  We share in the same Spirit of the Lord in our Baptism and can help bring the Kingdom of God in sharing in Jesus ministry of priest, prophet, and king.  We are baptized into the Body of Christ, and each of us has a part to play. 

How can we do this? In letting the oppressed go free, especially the unborn, by standing up to protect life from conception.  By proclaiming liberty to captives, especially those enslaved by sin, by sharing God’s mercy and forgiveness by inviting others to a relationship with Jesus.  By opening up the eyes to those blind to injustices of poverty, human trafficking, and euthanasia that threatens the dignity of the human person. So many of the injustices in the culture we live in can be changed if we hear the Word of God, understand it, and take action to bring about the Kingdom of God.

In order to do this we need to hear the Word of God and let it change us.  We can of course hear the Word of God at Mass, but we have many opportunities to hear the Word before we come to Mass. The more we hear it, the more it will become familiar with it. When I was younger I did not spend much time with the Word of God. When my wife and I were first married we visited her grandparents, Grandpa and Grandma Munson, in Decatur, IL. I had on met them once or twice previously. After visiting for a few minutes together, Linda went to help her grandma in the kitchen to make dinner.    I visited with Grandpa Munson and he asked me if I liked to read stories that were filled with all kinds of excitement: murders, wars, infidelity, family strife, and love affairs. I told him of course I did.   We went inside and he took me to a bookcase and pulled out the Holy Bible. He told me to read this and I would read all he told me, but I would also learn about loving God who was always there to offer his mercy and forgiveness. That was the start of me starting to read the Bible.

There are so many opportunities we have to hear to the Word of God today. We can access to it on our phones, computers, and TV in so many ways. We can read the readings or listen to a video reflection on the US Bishops Web site. The parish has subscribed to a service called Formed from Augustine Institute that all parish members have access to.  It has a great weekly reflection on the Sunday readings called “Opening the Word”. There’s also a free app from Augustine Institute called Amen that you can download to your phone and listen to the daily readings. And if you don’t like technology most Catholic Bibles have a list of the readings for each Sunday. By taking time to hear the Word of God at Mass before Sunday, you’ll be able to receive it with gratitude and joy.

We can take action to help the oppressed go free, the blind see, and bring liberty to the captives, by understating the injustices in our world and where the Church stands on them. A great resource for this is the Archbishop’s Pastoral Letter, “We are One in Christ”, which is located on the Archdiocese website.   By hearing what injustices exist in our world, especially or local diocese, and acting upon them to build up the Body of Christ. If we receive God’s word with joy, understand it, and act upon it, we can help recreate the world to bring about a year acceptable to the Lord.

   

Stand erect and be prepared for the Lord! 28th Sunday, Cycle B

             Happy New Year!   We are beginning a new year in the Church.   We just lit the first purple Advent Candle.   The priest and deacon are now wearing purple vestments.  These are signs of the Lord’s coming.     We are of course anticipating Jesus’ arrival as a little baby, but early in Advent we focus on the Lord’s second coming at the final judgment. 

             In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks of signs.  He references the sky:  the sun, moon, and stars that the people of His time relied on for guidance in their travels.   If these changed the people of the time would be lost.  These were their GPS.  He also spoke of nations in distress and being perplexed by the roaring of seas and the waves. These were disorienting situations where control and order was lost. The is a world in chaos and people are in fear anticipating what is coming next.    They don’t know what to rely on because the signs they trusted are passing away.

            People today like to reference these signs of uncertainty to predict the coming of the end times.   When they see these signs of chaos in the world they predict the end is coming causing people to be afraid.  But throughout history there have been many of these signs that have come and gone.   Nobody knows the day or the hour when the Lord will come again.  So what are we to do?   

            Jesus tells us, “When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads, because your redemption is at hand.”  By living as faithful Christians, loving God and neighbor, we look forward to the coming of the Lord, because we have the hope that the justice of the Lord will be ours.   Our hope is that He will find us worthy to join him in His heavenly Kingdom.   

            In order for us to anticipate His coming we need to stay awake.    Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be drowsy from carousing, drunkenness, and anxieties of daily life.    When we are focused on these things we’re focused on ourself and not loving God or others.    We know the Lord will come again, but we don’t know exactly when.   To be ready we can listen the Lord’s advice: “be vigilant and pray for the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”   We need to always be ready to meet the Lord when he comes again.  Saint Paul offers us some insight on how to do this, to grow in love.   He tells us, “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, and be blameless in holiness before our God and Father.”  This is possible by conducting ourselves to please God, showing our love for Him and our neighbor, walking in the Way of the Lord.

            There have definitely been signs in our faith community showing this love for one another.   The hundreds of people in need that showed up for the Thanksgiving food distribution last weekend.  The thousands of items donated and service to the Thanksgiving food distribution, food pantry, Christmas store, Pro-vida toy drive, and Gabriel project baby showers over the past year.  The many volunteers who prepared and served food at funeral meals throughout the year.  The hundreds of visits by Eucharistic ministers to bringing the life giving food of Jesus in Communion to the sick and homebound.  The numerous volunteers and teachers of the faith in RCIA, religious education, school and athletic ministries. There are of course countless signs seen only by the Lord himself in acts of love serving others in the name of Jesus.

            So as the New Year in the Church begins, it’s a good time to reflect on spiritual resolutions to work on so we can grow in love and be ready when the Lord comes again. Try to find some quiet time to pray for the strength to grow in love and listen to the Lord of any changes He’s calling you to.  By striving to live a life of loving of God and neighbor we can be ready to stand erect and raise our heads with joy when the Lord comes again.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family - Jesus lived in a family striving to be Holy: we can too!

 Since I’ve been serving as a deacon, I usually come to church separately from my family so I can arrive early for Mass to prepare.  This is our family’s normal routine on most Sundays, but a few years ago on Christmas both Linda and I had to be here early to set up. We gave our son, Ryan, the option of coming with us or waiting for his sister to pick him up later, which he chose to do.   After Mass both Linda and I stayed to help clean up, assuming Ryan would went home with his sister.   At least that’s what we thought.  Arriving home our daughters were there, but not Ryan.    We had bit of a panic, but within a few minutes Ryan called from the church asking for a ride home.  Now I can say we have something in common with Holy Family, losing our son in the God’s temple.

            Today we heard the story about the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. I really


like this Gospel as it shows us that even the Holy Family experiences trials of families just like all of us. How could Jesus have been lost without Mary and Joseph noticing? We are told that the Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover when Jesus was twelve years old.    Jesus, being twelve was, at an age transition from childhood to being an adult.  In the Jewish culture men and women would travel in groups separately.  Both boys and girls who had not reached puberty traveled with their mothers.  When boys reached the age of puberty they’d transition to be with the men.  This was a rough transition.  Boys were doted on by their mother and were cared for their every need. The harsh world of among men meant the boys would have to fend for themselves.  

            Jesus, being twelve may have just made the transition to traveling with the men. Joseph may have thought that Jesus’ absence on the way back was just a temporary return to the comfort of his mother.   Mary may have thought proudly that Jesus continued with his traveling with the men, which was appropriate for his age.   Since the men and women traveled separately Jesus’ absence went unnoticed till they came together late in the day. Mary and Joseph must have been distraught when they realized they had lost God’s son! Since Mary and Joseph had traveled a full day, it would have taken them another full day to return to Jerusalem and left the third day to find him. 


            They were astounded to finally find Jesus among the teachers in the temple sitting down and asking them questions, like a rabbi, rather than a twelve-year-old boy. 

 

In her distress Mary asks Jesus: “Son, why have you done this to us?  Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”  Jesus’ response is the first we hear from him in Luke’s Gospel,  “Why were you looking for me?   Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?  His response sounds like he was irritated with Mary and may have been due to his independence from her in traveling among the men. But it may have been an expression of His growing wisdom of the divine nature being the God’s Son.     


            Mary’s response to Jesus was one of very concerned mother. We’re told that Mary and Joseph did not fully understand what Jesus meant and that Mary kept the whole situation kept it in her heart. I don’t think I would be responded as gently as she did.   Mary was modeling the human virtue patience and love that we all strive for.   Sometimes we need to just reflect on a situation before reacting in haste, especially with our families. Finally, Jesus responds with love in obedience to his parents returning with them to Nazareth


            How can we become holy families? The Church calls families the “Domestic Church”.   The family is a community of grace and prayer amid our homes, school, at play, and at work.   The family is where we first learn to grow in virtues and faith.  We all have challenges in our families, which can cause anxieties like Mary and Joseph experienced with the loss of Jesus. These challenges can be trying but can be opportunity to grow in virtues.  By practicing the virtues of compassion, patience, kindness, gentleness, and forgiveness as we heard from St. Paul in Colossians, we will be able to grow in love strengthening our families. Another thing we can do to be a holy family is to be thankful for each other and to be thankful to God for giving us our families.


            We don’t know much more about the life of Jesus, growing up in a family. But we do know that he did live in a family, with a mother and a stepfather. It’s assumed St. Joseph died, so Jesus went through the heartache of losing a parent. He probably had cousins, aunt, uncles, grandparents, and other relatives who came together for family gatherings where everyone may not have gotten along. The Holy Family also experienced joys and sorrows just like many of us have. Jesus knows what it’s like to live in a family and that it can be difficult sometimes.  When we have problems with our own families, we can turn to Jesus, the Blessed Mother, and St. Joseph in prayer to help with our troubles. It can be as simple as saying Jesus, Mary, and Joseph please protect our family and keep them in your care. Next weekend after all the Masses on January 1st and 2nd you’ll have a special opportunity to consecrate your family to the Holy Family.  This will be a short prayer service to call upon the Holy Family for the grace to help each your families.  Amid all the challenges we’ve all experienced the last few years this Holy Family consecration will be a great way to start the new year.

 

                I’d like to close with a prayer composed by St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta: Heavenly Father, you have given us the model of life in the holy family of Nazareth.  Help us make our family another Nazareth where, love, peace and joy reign.  Teach us to see Jesus in the members of our families, especially in their distressing disguise. May we love one another as God loves each of us, more and more each day, and forgive each other’s faults as you forgive our sins.  Help us take whatever you give and give whatever you take with a big smile.  Amen.

Monday, September 20, 2021

To be the GOAT in God's Kingdom, serve the least - Homily, 25th Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

 Who is the Goat?

 

This is a common abbreviation that is used today which means the greatest of all time.

 

We like to focus on who is the greatest.

 

If you watch the sports shows on TV or listen to the radio, you’ll hear the discussion come up quite often.

 

I did an Internet search of the Goat in Sports. 

 

Some names that came up were Michael Jordon, Babe Ruth, Serena Williams, Wayne Getszky, Nadia Comenic, Tom Brady, Tiger Woods.

 

I’m sure that you recognize these, and you can think of some others.

 

When you think of someone who is the Goat it is the top performer in a particular field.   

 

It could be sports, business, entertainment, or political leaders.

 

It’s interesting to discuss who is the greatest and we all may have opinions on who they are.

 

When you think of someone who is the Goat it’s usually the one with the most skill, power, influence, net worth that leads to fortune and fame.

 

These are all measures of success of the greatest in the world we live in.

 

This week we hear the disciples of Jesus discussing who is the greatest among themselves

 

Jesus teaches them a lesson on who will be the greatest in the God’s kingdom which is much different than the greatest of the world.

 


 

Today’s Gospel starts off with Jesus going on a journey through Galilee with his disciples.

 

He wanted to be alone with them as he was going to tell them a second time of the events that would eventually lead to his death and resurrection.

 

He was telling them that he was going to make the ultimate sacrifice, giving his life.

 

But they didn’t seem to understand what he was telling them and were afraid to ask him any questions. 

 

As the disciples continued on their journey, they were not at all focused on what Jesus had told them.

 

They were focusing on themselves, and who was going to be the greatest among them.

 

They had been with Jesus for some time and experienced his miracles of healings and casting out demons, the multiplication of the loaves feeding thousands, and transfiguration with Elijah and Moses appearing. 

 

They must have been anticipating that something greater was coming in following Jesus and wanted to position themselves to be first among the disciples to be rewarded.

 

Jesus knew they did not yet comprehend what required to be greatest in his Kingdom.

 

He tells them, “If anyone wish to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all”.

 

He then finds and child to give them an example of what he means.   

 

At the time of Jesus children were of the lowest of status, equivalent to a slave.   

 

There was a very high mortality rate and only 40% of children lived to the age of sixteen.

 

Until a person reached adulthood they were not seen as any real status.

 

Jesus tells them something that was probably quite contrary to their understanding,

 


“Whoever receive one child such as this in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but the me who sent me”

 

He was telling them that to the be greatest they had to be of service to the least in the world, a little child who had no status, and in doing so they would be serving God.

 

This was probably not at all what the disciples where expecting and it would take them more time to learn.

 


 

As disciples of Jesus, we are all still trying to learn about what it means to be the greatest in God’s Kingdom.

 

Being the last of all and servant of all is so contrary to the values of the culture that we live in.

 

The culture is focused on having the most money, power, and fame to be the greatest.

 

The Church helps us to become the greatest in God’s kingdom by serving those who are the least.

 

The Church does so by example in speaking out for a providing ministry for those who are most vulnerable and considered the least in our world, 

 

the unborn,

 

the homeless,

 

those with mental illness, 

 

refugees and immigrants escaping poverty and violence,

 

those affected by human trafficking,

 

the elderly

 

Who is the Church? 

 

We are!

 

Of course, we have the Church and the formal hierarchy of Pope and Bishops that speak out on defending the least of all.

 

But we the people who make up the Church are the ones who can make the most difference in serving those who are most in need.

 

How can we do this?

 

One important way is to support the ministries we have in our own parish, the Gabriel Project, the Food Pantry, and special collections we have throughout the year that support those who are most vulnerable.

 

There are also the Catholic Charities ministries in the Archdiocese that serve those who are most in need that we can volunteer for and provide financial support.

 

We can also speak up for to defend the unborn, poor, elderly, and persecuted among those we associate at work or school and among family and friends. 

 

When we support those who are the least, we are striving to be the greatest of all time, not in the world, but in God’s kingdom.