Sunday Homily

Nov. 16, 2019

Readings: 1st- Mal. 3:19-20a; 2nd- 2 Thess. 3:7-12; Gospel- Lk. 21:5-19

“By your perseverance, you will secure your lives (Lk. 21:19) 

What does it mean when Jesus says, “By your perseverance, you will secure your lives?” It seems like some paradox: our faith will attract persecution and possibly death, yet we’ll be rewarded with life. As we near the end of the liturgical year, the readings focus on the end of times. The disciples ask Jesus, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when these things are about to happen?” The reason for their curiosity is because Jesus was telling them how the beautiful and expensive structures and decorations will be no more. The costly stones and adornments of the temple! What will happen to them? Jesus says they will be no more at some point. That time is a period of reckoning when God will bring everything to accountability before him.  

The prophet Malachi sets the precedence in the first reading by presenting some harsh images of the judgment that will come. The prophet exposes the unfortunate consequences that will befall proud persons and evildoers. He maintains that the day is “coming” which will be like an oven, blazing and burning down all that is connected with evil. The poor and arrogant will burn on fire like stubble. But those who fear the Lord will receive his soothing and healing touch. The sun of justice will shine on them. Malachi’s graphic metaphors of this horrific “Day of the Lord” is intended to elicit change in the people, inviting them to turn from evil behaviors and seek God's presence.   

In the gospel, Jesus warns against two things, falling for false prophecy and despairing because of persecution. As in the time of prophet Malachi, Jesus reveals that Christian persecution is a part of the life of believers. Christian persecution will be characterized by betrayals, disappointments, and fear. Jesus highlights, “You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends.” One danger arising from threats to religious freedom is the rise of (false) prophecy. When times get tough, when faith gets ridiculed, believers become vulnerable. Once Christianity is under attack, the tendency is that people might accept messages that present an easy alternative. End-time prophecies thrive. False prophets assume messianic roles and take advantage of the chaos to deceive believers. Such messages that make false claims might become popular, “I am he,” “The time has come.” Jesus warns us, “See that you not be deceived… Do not follow them!”  

What comes to mind here is the passage about the narrow gate where Jesus remarks, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). False prophecies provide a way that is wide, cozy, and attractive. We must be careful how to react in the face of disasters, natural or human. They’re not necessarily signs of the end times. They may not also imply that God is ending creation. 

Last week, I visited a man who requested to have a priest. The man seemed to have so many questions about things bugging him. He repeated these questions several times to me, “If God is perfect, why does he not stop earthquakes and disasters that we have from time to time? Why does God not stop evil people from committing evil?” Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I had the complete answers to those concerns or if my answers would change his perceptions. I tried to focus his attention on the goodness of God. One thing is clear, we didn’t beg God to create the universe. I hope we realize that. The world is all his, in the first place. Everything belongs to Him. Yet, He lets us do with the universe what we want. God is not the problem, we are. I tried to tell this man that earthquakes and disasters are the results of humanity’s abuse of freedom given to us by God. We’ve messed up the universe, so, creation is not the same. That’s why Saint Paul wrote that “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Rom. 8:22). Human beings have become evil because they’ve sold out. They’ve given their hearts to the devil. 

Christ warns us today, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he.’ The time has come.’ He reminds us, “There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.” But the positive thing is this, “It will lead to your giving testimony.”

Friends, let us not be deceived. Let us not be swept off our spiritual and religious foundation. Let us not be made to become panicky to the point of compromise. We are invited to brace up for the challenges that come our way just because of who we are. Our faith is an essential part of our being. Faith means a lot to us, otherwise, we won’t wake up early in the morning to be here. It is important to us in the formation of our children. It matters so much to us how it is treated, how our religious beliefs are regarded. Jesus says, “See that you not be deceived.”  

Christianity means discipleship. It means witnessing. It means readiness to follow Christ which includes the inconveniences that are associated with it. The solution to religious opposition is not lukewarm. The solution to threats against our faith is not mediocrity. We might live in a time where our faith is challenged or opposed, but we don’t have to apologize for our faith, for being Christians, for being believers, for being followers of Christ. We might live in a time when religion is consciously removed from the schools to deny our children the opportunity to learn about Christ, but we don't have to give up our identity. Jesus offers us hope. Hear what he says, “You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance, you will secure your lives” (Lk. 21:18-19). 

 

 

Nov. 9, 2019

Readings: 1st- 2 Macc. 7:1-2, 9-14; 2nd- 2 Thess. 2:16-3:5; Gospel- Lk. 20:27-38

TO GOD ALL ARE ALIVE

It’s all about the reality of the resurrection in the readings of today. We see how the seven sons in the book of Maccabees experience torture. They help us understand the futility of the human body. The sons and their mother are persecuted for refusing to eat pork in violation of God’s law, a pre-Christian Jewish belief that emphasizes the dignity of dying for one’s faith. The reading points strongly to the importance of the afterlife. Those who are executed do not hesitate to give up their bodies despite physical pains. They believe that God will reward them eternally for remaining faithful to the end. The last son in the reading exclaims, “It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised by him; but for you, there will be no Resurrection to life” (2 Macc. 7:14).

This sets the stage for the gospel. The Sadducees who do not believe in the resurrection or in angels question Christ. They use a tricky image to communicate their denial of the resurrection. As usual, Moses is their Old Testament authority. They cite the Torah that someone’s brother must take his wife to raise descendants for the brother if he died without having any offspring. They present the case of seven brothers who had all married the same woman without any of them having a child with her. So, they ask Christ, “At the resurrection whose wife will she be having been married to all seven?” Christ’s response is astonishing. It's not just about marriage or about begetting children, it’s about being truly alive, being fruitful for the sake of God's kingdom.

The children of this age marry for the sake of having children. They love to enjoy earthly benefits. The children of the Kingdom marry to make heaven. Such persons are not focused on their bodies. They concentrate on what makes them live forever in heaven. Since the Sadducees used the Torah (Moses’ writing) to counter the Resurrection, Jesus refers them to the same authority of the Scripture to prove the reality of the resurrection. At the burning bush, Moses referred to God as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.  Even though those ancestors might have been physically dead, they are alive in God.  They are alive in the faith. To God all are alive.

Who are the dead? They are those who lived as though everything ended here on earth. Those who were lost in wealth, power, and earthly possession. Recall the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Lk. 16:19-31). While the rich man died and was buried, Lazarus died and was taken to Abraham’s side (Lk. 16:22). The rich man sighted Abraham from a distance and called out to him for help. The rich man was in Hades, a place of torment. He was truly dead. The rich man realized that in heaven, the dead are not dead. They live with God. Only from heaven can the dead communicate. They are able to offer help because they are like angels- messengers of God. For that reason, the rich man called out to Abraham, "Send Lazarus to my family" (Lk. 16:27). Again, he begged, “If someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent” (Lk. 16:29). He cannot do it from where he is. He is dead forever, hence he asks for help from those who are truly living. To God all are alive.

The resurrection of Christ is at the center of our Christian belief. Saint Paul makes a strong case when he writes to the Corinthians, “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (15:12-14). This is what the Sadducees try to do questioning Christ. Saint Paul’s answer is that, “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). Through Christ, the resurrection becomes an essential part of our Christian faith.

Those who suffer persecution or torture for the sake of Christ will rise from the dead. Those who give up material or physical satisfaction will rise from the dead. Jesus reminds Peter, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matt. 19:29). So, the real-life is the life that is productive for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

We profess in the Creed, “the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” Without the resurrection, our hope would be meaningless. Christians who are persecuted here on earth, like those sons in the first reading, will rise with Christ.  Their reward will be great in heaven (Matt. 5:10).

I was told of the story of some children who lost their mom. The woman died in an attempt to save one of the children who was attacked by bees. While the children were playing in the filed right in front of the house, they were attacked by bees. This woman heard the little baby crying and rushed out. As she picked up the child, the swarm of bees attacked her. On the way to the hospital she died. But the baby survived. That’s like a martyr. She died saving her child. She will rise with Christ.

We are children of the Resurrection. In God, we all have become alive. We live for the world beyond where we shall see God as He really is. That’s what the Resurrection does: 1). it transforms our physical bodies. 2). It makes us assume the likeness of the angels. 3). It gives us the privilege of seeing God as he is. 4). It brings us to the abiding identity of living in eternity where we die no more. We conquer death forever because to God all are alive. 

Oct. 26, 2019

Readings: 1st- Sir. 35:12-14, 16-18; 2nd- 2 Tim. 4:6-8, 16-18; Gospel- Lk. 18:9-14.

THOSE WHO ARE CONVINCED OF THEIR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS AND DESPISE EVERYONE ELSE

The word “narcissism” is getting more and more popular in today’s society in what can be described in a negative way. Narcissism is said to have its origin from a Greek myth about Narcissus, a man who “sees his own reflection in a pool of water and falls in love with it.” It means an obsession with one’s ego at the expense of or to the denigration of others. We will look at some of the characteristics of a narcissistic personality disorder in the course of this homily. Individuals with such traits have the tendency to look down on others and to self-exalt themselves. That is the problem of the Pharisee in the gospel.

The readings of today place before us two categories of the human situation: that of humility and that of pride/arrogance. The book of Sirach in the first reading highlights mostly the rewards for the first. God favors the weak. He looks after the oppressed, the widow and orphan because they depend on him. The reading states, “The one who serves God willingly is heard, his petition reaches to the heavens” (Sir. 35:16). The lowly depends on the Creator. She calls out to God constantly. Sirach explains that God hastens to answer such prayers and grants his favors to the contrite heart and the humble spirit.

The gospel presents us with the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector which Jesus used to demonstrate the dangers of a narcissistic attitude. The tax collector went to the temple to pray, understood how much of a sinner he was. He showed deep contrition before God. He asked for mercy. The tax collector wanted to be better and accepted guilt for his offenses. He showed such humility that wouldn’t let him raise his eyes to heaven, rather “beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” The tax collector did not just speak the words; he “prayed.”

In the New Testament, tax collectors have a bad reputation, they represent a breed scorned by the people. They are notorious for their professional misdemeanor- took bribes, extorted money. Two examples of this representation are Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, and Matthew. The Pharisees were scandalized at Jesus and complained against his friendship with this group. While he dined with Matthew and other tax collectors they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matt. 9:11). When Jesus encountered Zacchaeus, the people complained, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner” (Lk. 19:7). This will help us understand the background of today’s gospel. But in those stories about tax collectors, we noticed an interesting turn of events. The tax collectors showed great remorse and repentance from their sins. Matthew became one of Jesus’ great disciples. Zacchaeus stood up and said to Jesus, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Lk. 19:8). The tax collector of today’s gospel acknowledged his sins before God. He was concerned about how the Lord looked at him. He went home justified for his sincere repentance and humility.

On the contrary, the Pharisee came to the temple to present his performance report. He “spoke” the prayers to himself, did not pray to God. He believed that God was in the temple but saw the temple visit as a routine check, an opportunity to express how much he outperformed others. By his assessment, the tax collector was unworthy to be allowed into the temple. The Pharisee had good knowledge about the commandments and about religious duties. And he believed that he performed creditably- not greedy, not dishonest, not adulterous. He fasted, paid his tithes, so those are no problems for him. According to his rubrics, he made an A+, “I am not like the rest of humanity- or even like this tax collector” (Lk. 18:11). Since “this tax collector” was automatically disqualified to appear before God, the Pharisee was convinced about his own righteousness. Not just that, he also despised everyone else, “I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity.” Don’t we see some signs of narcissism here? This man is truly in love with his shadow. He’s one of those narcissists:

  • Always Talk About Themselves -often about their physical appearance, talents or achievements.
  • Fantasize- elaborate fantasies about “success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate.
  • Believe They Are Superior- have “a grandiose sense of self-importance,” leading them to feel superior to most.
  • Require Constant Praise- no matter how outwardly confident narcissists may portray themselves, they are often incredibly insecure and have very fragile self-esteem.
  • Enjoy Being the Center of Attention- in order to feed their low self-esteem, and because they feel superior to others, they always crave attention and will often seek it out.

The Pharisee talked to himself about his achievements, fantasized (not like the rest of humanity), believed he was superior, enjoyed self-praise, and was definitely the center of the spiritual show he came to perform. The consequence is that he left empty of God’s grace and mercy.

Of course, there are many such persons as the Pharisee in the world today. Those who are convinced about their own righteousness and would castigate others. Those who believe they are the best in everything and don’t need anything from others except acknowledgments and praises. Those who believe that they’re infallible, who don’t make mistakes. Such would not need any suggestions or corrections.

In Catholic practice, such persons do not believe in confessions because they don’t see themselves sinning. Should they come to confessions, it is for others- their wives, husbands, children, colleagues, or some bad persons who have made them do something. They would usually begin this way, “Father, I am not sure I remember anything wrong that I have done. Anyway, it’s just that my wife/husband drives me crazy all the time.” “My colleague at work is a nasty person, sometimes I try to give it back to her/him. Is that a bad thing?” “I think I touched myself somehow. Father, that’s just one thing I’m struggling with. I guess everyone does that.”

Jesus warns us today against being like the Pharisee. He warns us against being convinced of our own righteousness. We should not disparage others. We must be humble to receive God’s blessings and favors. We must acknowledge our weaknesses before God, He alone is superior. Like the tax collector, let us show readiness to repent. We must recognize from these two men that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk. 18:14).   

 

Oct. 19, 2019

WHEN GOD’S CHILDREN UNITE

Readings: 1st- Ex. 17:8-13; 2nd- 2 Tim. 3:14-4:2; Gospel- Lk.18:1-8

The case of Amalek and that of the judge in the gospel who neither fears God nor respects any human being seem to parallel each other in today’s readings. The judge is not willing to respond to the widow who begs for justice. He is not ready to pay attention to the woman’s plea, “Render a just decision for me against my adversary.” But the judge’s unwillingness is met with persistence. The widow makes sure she bothers the judge until judgment is delivered to her. Christ informs us from that parable that God will secure the rights of those who call upon him day and night.  

In the first reading, the story of Amalek leaves us with important themes for our reflection. Amalek wages war against the Israelites who encounter this nomadic, marauding tribe after they left Egypt for the Promised Land. In the book of Deuteronomy, Amalek is described as “who did not fear God” (Deut. 25:18). The battle in the first reading was in fulfilment of the words of the Lord spoken to Moses about Amalek thus, “When the LORD your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!” (Deut. 25:19). God commanded the Israelites to engage in battle with Amalek. God wanted Amalek to be wiped off probably because they did not fear him. The Israelites fought the battle recognizing the presence of God, a power seen by the presence of Moses at the top of the mountain. They showed courage and resilience until they won the victory. 

The action of Moses throughout the time of battle against the Amalekites calls for special interest. Moses was up on the mountain with Aaron and Hur, with arms raised in invocation to God. Joshua was the foot soldier in the battle front. In Moses and Joshua, physical might combined with spiritual forces to achieve success. Moses’ spiritual strength provided sustenance for Joshua and those fighting as Scripture says, “As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight.” The responsorial psalm maintains, “Our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121). Moses recognized God as the source of their victory and kept God’s staff in his hand in the same manner that he lifted the staff for the Israelites to pass the Red Sea. We must recognize the presence of God during our own tough times. We must constantly lift our hands up in prayer. 

The role played by Aaron and Hur is significant in this battle against Amalek. They were Moses’ lieutenants, stayed with him at the top of the mountain. They held his hands up for him when he grew tired. They stood side by side with him. They made Moses’ hands remain stable till sunset, and by that action, Joshua and his soldiers were able to mow down Amalek. This shows the importance of team work in every human endeavor. Even though Moses was the leader, he would have given up, had Aaron and Hur not supported him. 

Some of us are like Moses who provide leadership. Such persons coordinate, direct, initiate projects, and create plans for things to happen. In families, such persons keep everyone in line. They make sure that things are done properly and in time. They determine when bills are paid, when taxes are filed, which school the children attend. They plan family events such as thanksgiving and Christmas and assign positions to others. In the workplace, they are the CEO’s and bosses who call the shots. In the church, they head groups and committees. The Moses’s also worry that things go well and as planned. So, they devote their time praying for the achievement of their goals. Their role is important for efficient running of any society. 

Others are like Joshua, the foot soldier who provides physical labor and service. Such individuals do the fighting. They get venues for meetings and events ready. They are the hands-on persons who share flyers and posters. They make themselves available and sacrifice their lives for the community. They fight to protect the interest of their members. Those who have the personality of Moses and Joshua drive the goals of every community. But Moses and Joshua would not have succeeded without the support of Aaron and Hur. They held his hands for as long as they remained on the mountain. They provided what Moses needed at the critical time in battle. They served as Moses’ backup. 

The need to build support systems is a great one in our lives. Every individual has an attachment need fulfilled by others. The husband needs the wife and the wife needs the husband. The children need their parents and the parents need their children. Siblings need one another in the family. The boss at work needs the staff and the staff need the boss. The doctor needs the nurse while the nurse also needs the doctor. Teachers need student to teach while students need teachers to learn. The Church calls such the spirit of solidarity.

Most importantly, we need each other as spiritual partners in our battle against the forces of darkness. We need each other to fight the Amalek’s in our time, to fight those who have no fear of God. We need each other to function effectively. To win the battle against the devil, we need friends like Aaron and Hur to hold us up. We need the support of friends like Aaron and Hur at those trying moments in our lives. When we feel sick and weak. When we feel like giving up. When we feel stretched and exhausted. When we experience heartbreak. When we encounter loss. There is always the need for the community of believers to unite, the need for an Aaron and a Hur, the need for a great support system, the need for an attachment base to lean on.

 

Remember the song by Michael Bolton:

Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won't let show

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

If there is a load you have to bear
That you can't carry
I'm right up the road
I'll share your load

If you just call me (call me)
If you need a friend (call me) call me uh huh(call me) if you need a friend (call me)
If you ever need a friend (call me)
Call me (call me) call me (call me) call me
(Call me) call me (call me) if you need a friend
(Call me) call me (call me) call me (call me) call me (call me) call me (call me)

 

Sep. 28, 2019

LEARNING FROM THE RICH MAN’S MISTAKE

Readings: 1st- Amos 6:1a, 4-7; 2nd- 1 Tim. 6:11-16; Gospel- Lk. 16:19-31

What made this rich man acquire such a negative image in the scripture and Lazarus  the opposite? The story of the rich man and Lazarus connects to the chain of parables that Christ used to point out to his followers the importance of seeking heavenly kingdom with their earthly possession. Last Sunday, in our reading about the parable of the unjust servant, Christ said, “I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails you, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Lk. 16:9). The rich man is an example of someone who failed to use his “dishonest wealth” to secure eternal dwellings. Wealth disappointed him.

Materially, the rich man was very comfortable - “dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day.” He was in a position of privilege. Lazarus, on the other hand was poor, and represented the marginalized. Lazarus wasn’t far from the rich man. He “was lying at his door,” “covered with sores.” Lazarus was only seeking to have something to eat, “the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table” would be just enough. He was not intending to get rich like the rich man. Perhaps, only the basic necessities of having food, clothing, and shelter would be sufficient for him. Instead, dogs would come to lick the sores of the poor man’s wounds. Could those be the rich man’s dogs still feeding from the poor man’s little? 

Here, Christ gives us a painfully graphic image of poverty, representing the gap between the rich and the poor. The chasm between Lazarus and the rich man in this world depicted the chasm in eternity which Abraham would highlight representing the ultimate destination of all mortals and the glories of the resurrection. 

Each time I read this passage, I struggle because of the devastating impact of poverty in Africa, a poverty that leaves its victim vulnerable. Someone who cannot afford a meal in a day, someone who earns less than 3 dollars a day can be described as having sores. Ironically, some of the rich men in such societies have excess wealth. They have monies stored in different foreign banks in countries such as the United States, England, Switzerland, and Scotland. Whereas the children of the poor go through excruciating hardship and trauma. The experience of those children can be likened to the dogs licking the sores of Lazarus.

What was the offense of the rich man in today’s parable? The rich man was insensitive to the plight of the poor. The rich man was selfish. The rich man lacked compassion. The rich man was arrogant. The rich man was blinded by his wealth. He was uncharitable. The rich man refused to assist the poor Lazarus with his wealth.

The consequences of the rich man’s actions? We can describe this as a comparative parable because the entire setting placed side by side the situation of two men of different socioeconomic status here on earth and hereafter. Both Lazarus and the rich man died. While Lazarus was “carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham,” “the rich man also died and was buried.” Their positions were reversed -Lazarus went up while the rich man went down. Was the rich man taken to the netherworld because he neglected to treat Lazarus with compassion? Scripture doesn’t say exactly that but there is a correlation to his act of omission. The rich man lacked the virtue of love as Christ said, “As long as you failed to do it to the least of my brethren, you failed to do it to me” (Matt. 25:45). The rich man didn’t see Christ on the face of Lazarus. He did not listen to the prophets about the need to serve others with his material possession. 

While at the other end, the rich man demanded for pity, went on to ask Abraham to send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool his thirst. He began the real death, loss of life for eternity. He is cast down from his exalted position on earth. One commentator remarked that the rich man did not change his selfishness even in death. He still wanted Lazarus to be his servant and requested Abraham to send Lazarus to dip his finger and cool his tongue. When that request failed, he begged to have him sent to his five brothers, “so that he may warn them, lest they too may come to this place of torment” (Lk. 16:27-28). Selfishness is not cured by death. 

The parable of the rich man warns us against treating the poor badly. It challenges us to not neglect them. The rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers lest they come to the same place of torment. That place of torment is hellfire. Abraham’s words sound strongly to us, “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.” Let us make use of our opportunities to do good. Let us use every chance we have to serve the poor. The rich man blew his chances. He saw Lazarus as a piece of dirty man who deserved no better than to remain where he was. He bypassed him daily. Hell is real for those who fail to hear the call to repentance.

In our own case, this Sunday, members of Saint Vincent de Paul Society in the parish are asking for support for their ministry. We all know that the ministry of St. Vincent de Paul is dedicated to helping the poor and the needy around us. Based on the spirituality of their founder, Saint Vincent de Paul Society reaches out to those facing different challenges- paying house rent, electric bills, water, heater in the winter, paying to support their children’s education and many other kinds of needs. I went back to read an article written by Rene Cover in the Family Apostolate magazine titled “Mary set out as quickly as she could into the hill country” with the subtitle, “How home visits as Vincentians impact lives.” In that article, Rene gives a wonderful image of how Vincentians take the risk of going into the homes of strangers to offer help. The ministry describes those they help as “neighbors.” Vincentians bring a comforting presence and hope to these persons in need. They make them see God’s love in their difficult situation. Rene writes, “Our neighbors know, without a doubt, we are present on behalf of Christ” (The Family Apostolate, Vol. 3, Issue 9, p.28). 

The voices of the members of Saint Vincent de Paul today represent the voices of Moses and the prophets. Abraham says to us, “Let them listen to them.” Do we heed such invitation? Does it make us change our position about helping the poor and the needy? Does it make us to recognize the plight of those who are not as privileged as we are? Can we move from our comfort positions even when it doesn’t feel like it is what we love doing?  The rich man lamented about his brothers, “Lest they too come to this place of torment.” I’m sure we don’t want to end up where the rich man is for our selfishness. Christ invites us once again today, “Whatso ever you do to the least of my people. That you do unto me.” Pick up a copy of the Family Apostolate magazine if you haven’t and take a look at that image on the cover again. Read Rene’s article, that might change something in you. The man on the cover page of that magazine holds an inscription that says, “You did it to me.” Ask yourself this question as you depart this church today, “How many Lazaruses do I pass on my way on daily basis? What can I do to help these Lazaruses. Remember, you are doing it for Christ.