“My child, do not mock the life of the poor; do not keep needy eyes waiting.
Give a hearing to the poor, and return their greeting with deference; Deliver the oppressed from their oppressors; right judgment should not be repugnant to you. Be like a father to orphans, and take the place of a husband to widows. Then God will call you his child, and he will be merciful to you and deliver you from the pit.” Book of Sirach 4: 1, 8-10
Came across this Scripture passage in a prayer book I have. It seems appropriate for our present times. With high inflation, just about everyone is feeling the pinch when it comes to purchasing the necessities of life. But we cannot forget, that the poor, the homeless, and the refugee feels it more deeply.
So we are called to dig deeper into our pockets. And not just our own pockets, but our communities pockets. Find the resources needed, to help all of our brothers and sisters! And if we give with an open heart, God will be there for, to support us; to embrace in love.
Jeremiah 17: 5-8; First Corinthians 15: 12, 16-20; Luke 6: 17, 20-26
In our society, there has always been a fascination with those people who are wealthy; those who are celebrities in the world of entertainment; those who have power. Some here may remember the television show “Lives of the Rich and Famous;” where the host would meet and talk with entertainment celebrities or famous people from various walks of life. This fascination continues to this very day; witness the various forms of the “Housewives of (fill in the blank).” The number of newspapers and magazines , all devoted to revealing every naughty aspect of their lives. And now we have rich people, who have invested their wealth in developing space ships, but not to explore, to reveal the mysteries of the universe; but to give fellow wealthy persons the ride a lifetime! While here on earth, there are people who cannot afford a decent place to live; afford to put food on the table for their families; decent clothing for them to wear; and they go about losing hope of a better life!
There is a saying “The more things change, the more they remain the same,”and it applies here! We have become used to a society with an upper class; a middle class; and a poor class. During the time of Jesus, however, as one Scripture scholar put it, the society was just made up of “Haves” and “Have Nots,”. Farmers who were always indebted to their landlords. Shepherds who were indebted to those who owned the pastures. Tax collectors, who often charged higher amounts than what was due, and pocketed the difference. For the poor, it was a very, very, hard life.
And then comes this man from the town of Nazareth, who proclaims good news for the poor, the suffering, the abandoned. This person, this Jesus, promises that there will be time of relief from their sufferings; a time of joy, a time of peace. He gives them hope!
Now, we who profess to be followers of Jesus; we, who by virtue of our Baptism, are members of the Body of Christ, have a calling to bring hope to those in in our world who are in despair, food to those who hunger, justice to those who are oppressed, companionship to those who feel abandoned, and peace to all of them. This is our challenge, to be open to the calling of Jesus, to reflect and to pray, to find out what is our mission in life; how we are to bring the Good News to our own families, our neighbors, our country, our world here and now! Drawing on the waters of God’s grace, in good times and difficult ones, we can help bring the promises of Christ to fruition.
“Prayer with fasting is good. Almsgiving with righteousness is better than wealth with wickedness. It is better to give alms than to store up gold, for almsgiving saves from death, and purges all sin. Those who give alms will enjoy a full life, but those who commit sin and do evil are their own worst enemies.” Tobit 12: 8-12
Acts10: 25-26, 34-35, 44-48; 1 John 4: 7-10; John 15: 9-17
We find ourselves in unsettling times, a deadly pandemic is ravaging the world, killing millions of people. We are just now beginning to getting a handle on it in this country, but it is devastating other parts of the world. But in this country, in addition to COVID, we find ourselves in the midst of political strive. We find an unwillingness to cooperate, to even civilly discuss the issues that affect our country. And even within our own Church, there is divisiveness! In opinion columns; through the internet, and even, God help us, from some pulpits, comes a level of argument, disagreement, down right disrespect and vindictiveness, that I never heard of in the past; from both sides! Is there any wonder why some polling services are reporting that the number of people no longer identifying themselves as Catholic has dropped, seriously dropped?
“This I command you: love one another.”
When Jesus Christ issued this command, he does not mean having a “Hallmark” moment! But…look at our Crucified Lord! ”No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Keep in mind, by “friends,” Christ means everyone we encounter, from family members, neighbors, coworkers, strangers, and yes, anyone we may have disagreements with. Because we are all brothers and sisters in Christ! We called to pray for everyone! We are called to welcome all, friend and stranger with love and acceptance. We are called to discuss and debate, with respect for the other, maintaining peace of heart with all. We are called to show charity to all in need.
And we can do this, if we turn to Jesus for help; let the Spirit inspire us, and remember that we are all children of God. Whatever we need in order to fulfill Jesus’s command, the Father will provide. Let us take to heart what Jesus has taught us, let the Holy Spirit inspire us! Let us love one another, today, tomorrow, and always. If we can do this, we can inspire others to do the same, we can help bring peace to our communities, to our state, our nation, to a world that desperately needs it.
On this day, the Catholic Church, and especially members of the Franciscan family, celebrate the life of St. Anthony of Padua.
In many Franciscan parishes, chapels and shrines; the friars will be distributing “St. Anthony’s Bread.” It a practice of charity, harkening back to a time when bread was actually distributed to the poor and hungry. One legend has it that a French cloth merchant could not get into her shop, because of a broken lock. She asked for help and intercession of St. Anthony, promising to give bread to the poor, in return. The lock miraculously opened, the shop was in business, and woman made good on her promise.
Since that time, Franciscan friary distribute small, blessed loaves of bread to people, as a reminder that as they receive blessings from God, they are to share it with those in need, for the love of God.
Today, November 17th, Franciscans around the world, but especially Secular Franciscans, will celebrate the memory of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. With St. Louis IX of France, she is Co-Patron Saint of the Secular Franciscan Order.
Born in Hungary, in 1207, she went to the German territory of Thuringia, to become the wife of its ruler, Louis. Together they would have four children. She would become well known for her acts of charity to the poor, establishing a hospital for the ill; and food for her poor subjects. Her husband would die from illness, while he was traveling to join an Imperial Crusade to the Holy Land. Court intrigue forced Elizabeth, with some of her children, to abandon the capital city, and flee. In a smaller, poorer city, she took residence and continued her service to the poor. Influenced by the recent arrival of Franciscan friars, she took one of them as her spiritual advisor. She would eventually become a Franciscan penitent. She would also eventually die relatively young.
St. Elizabeth can be, in fact, is a counter cultural example for our modern times. With our fascination with the rich and famous. With a minority of people controlling the majority of wealth in our country; to hear of a young, energetic woman willingly give up her riches for the poor, should shake our complacency. How best can we answer Christ’s command to feed the hungry; shelter the homeless; welcome the stranger. And what opportunities have we missed to do so?
Through the intercession of St. Elizabeth, may our eyes and hearts be open to those in need.