As you all know (and the commuters on Thursday / Friday will certainly know this because travel into and within NYC will be a nightmare), Pope Francis is in the USA to speak to the United Nations and to make a pastoral visit to the members of the Roman Catholic Communion in NY, Philadelphia and Washington. He will bring a message that the news media is amazingly discovering as one of a call to love and serve the poor – that to be a Christian is to be a servant.
No offense to those in the media, but news flash: this message has always been at the heart of the Gospel of Jesus. “The Son of Man has come, not to be served but to serve.” Service to others is the heart of the Christian message. I believe God is calling this parish to something special in terms of service to the “underclass” of our culture. I have heard a number of suggestions about what we should be doing now that the Carpenter’s Kids Program is over. Stay tuned: I believe the Lord is about to call us to be more and to love more than you can imagine!
Can we title this reflection: “I wonder where Christ may be leading us?”
The Carpenter’s Kids Program has come to an end. We no longer will be supporting that “organization” for a great reason: better treatment of AIDS and safer sexual practices have led to the end of a crisis in Africa where generations of adults were dying off and leaving their children at the mercy of the whims of charity. Families are now surviving (even if HIV positive) and even the original generation of “Carpenter’s Kids” has now reached University age. They have lived to become adults because of us. God be praised.
So now what? “To those who have been given much, much is expected” – Jesus taught! There are truly so many severe human crises going on in this sad sin-saturated world of ours. You watch TV. You see them: mass migrations of refugees in numbers not seen since the devastation of World War II. More hidden: the victims of tragedy and war in Africa or the hopeless cultures of urban poor in America.
As a parish, we have done one work very well. So now what? What is the Lord calling us to do?
I watched the true and aspiring athletes “run the race” at the Biathlon on Labor Day. In the heat of the morning, time became a serious point for reflection. Runners were competing against time. I, on the other hand, suddenly discovered that I had somehow damaged my phone and had no idea when I would be communicating with others again, or what time it was (who wears a watch?) – until I find the time to get a new phone (one that is smarter than its owner).
If the Christian journey is truly a race to a heavenly goal during the time we have here on earth, then perhaps we need reminders about how our time is used. When will it be time to start having really authentic conversations about racial justice and anger that every community in this nation needs to have (yes, even in upper Westchester County!). When will we find the time to deal with issues of moral conscience, political correctness, or self-authenticity without wasting time condemning those with whom we disagree? When will the time finally come when all will know they are welcomed into God’s family, and that, also, being a family member brings with it a commitment to justice and charity in Christ’s name that goes beyond feeling warm and fuzzy or being tolerant or living in denial?
Isn’t it about time we all get serious about being a follower of Jesus?
There were a number of beautiful photographs taken at the Sunday Liturgy “at the lake” (a.k.a. @ Paul and Bill’s house) last week. One scenario that wasn’t photographed but was a poignant moment for me took place while I was distributing Holy Communion. With subtlety and smoothness, Paul and Bill’s dog, Gavin, inserted himself into the line to receive the holy sacrament. (I wish I had had some doggie cookies to give him. Sadly, I had to send him back to his daddy, but I wonder what Francis of Assisi would have done?)
Of course the puppy just saw food being distributed and probably said to self: “Hey, why not?” That’s what doggies do, right? But in my mind, what was played out was the recognition that in this special food, given as a gift from Christ, we partake of “the bread of life.” Gavin saw what the Christian humans were doing, and saw that it was good. I think he intuited (and, yes, I believe dogs do this!) the words of Jesus that “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life within you.” Gavin saw a moment to be fed spiritually as well as physically. He acted out of love. He craved this gift! Perhaps he has much to teach us.