The Scriptures today give us a measuring stick of how to live as a Church and Christians. The first thing is that is not about me. Jesus teaches us is that it cannot be about me. Like St Paul, our main goal is to know Jesus and him crucified. His death shows us that our lives need to be sacrificed for the good of others. This is such an opposite message we hear today even in the churches. We seem to want to live the words of the old Frank Sinatra song:
I planned each charted course,
each careful step, along the byway,
and more, much more than this,
I did it my way.*
So, if I am so completely in charge, I don’t need anyone else, care about anyone else. I definitely don’t need God. I can do whatever I want, no matter who I step on, the poor and needy are not my concern, power is all I need.
The God that Jesus reveals to us is not selfish. God’s very nature is to focus on the other. Since the reason we exist to be live as Jesus did, then we need to focus on the other. The person who sits around us on Sunday but also the person who goes to Concerns U, Circles of Mercy, Joseph House, the City mission in Albany, the starving family in Africa, children who wake up every morning surrounded by violence, the Chinese man or woman who is sick with the virus, etc. the lamp of faith within is to be a beacon shining for everyone else in the world that only God is in charge of this world.
Isaiah tells us the profound truth that whatever:
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
This is the mandate that Jesus gave us:
“whatsoever ever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do unto me.”
My brothers and my sisters, Pope Francis told us that we need to smell like the sheep we serve. Although these words are directed at priests and bishops, they apply to us all. As important as our charitable giving is; we must also give of the very bread of our lives/
We will begin the sacred season of Lent two weeks from this coming Wednesday. We need to being to prepare ourselves now. Based on today’s readings, we need to begin to ask Jesus to show us what we is getting in our way of committing ourselves to him.
How much food are we wasting?
Do we over eat?
How much clothing do we have?
Do we need everything we have or can some be shared with the poor?
What opportunities do we have to “rub elbows” with the poor and homeless?
I am sure the Family Promise could use some volunteers. Family Promise is a program our community participates in that provides a place for homeless families using the McManus center. Our volunteers provide a meal and a place for people to stay. We share in this with many other faith communities in the area. Call the parish office for more info.
Do we fall into the trap of gossip and malicious speech?
What can you and I do to help free those whose lives are oppressed by racism, prejudice, sexism, homophobia, war and violence, those oppressed by addictions and the stigma that society puts on those with mental illness?
So, my brothers and sisters, let the upcoming season of Lent be a time to shift our perspective from self centeredness to Christ centeredness. When it is all said and done, God will not ask us:
How well did you do it your way?
Instead, He will ask us:
Did you share your bread with the hungry?
Did you share your clothes with the poor?
How well did you do it my way?