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Back Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Thursday, July 11, 2019
From the Desk of Fr. Ron…….
“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine? I have always wanted a neighbor just like you. I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you. So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day. Please, won’t you be my neighbor?” These lyrics, of course came from the famous Presbyterian Pastor, Fred Rogers of “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood;” the children’s program that ran on the Public Broadcasting System from the late 1960’s until recently. With Mr. Roger’s personality, we couldn’t imagine anyone that he couldn’t get along with and be delighted to have as his neighbor. In this weekend’s Gospel narrative from St. Luke, Jesus reviews for a scholar of the law what he must do to inherit eternal life. The scholar rightly summarizes the law as Jesus would with the two greatest commandments: Loving God and our neighbor as ourselves. However, to love one’s neighbor at the time of Jesus meant to love your fellow countrymen; fellow Jews. When rightly asking the question: “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus tells the now famous story of the “Good Samaritan.” It had a scandalous ending lifting up the behavior of a dreaded Samaritan as a model for Jews. The Jewish priest was too concerned about his religious practice and thus, not get involved in anything that would take him away from his ritual purpose. The Levite may have thought the scene a clever ruse, in order for other bandits to have their way with him, so he too ignores the person in need crossing over to the other side. But a Samaritan, who is likely well aware that if he were beaten on the side of the road, no Jew would pay him any attention, surprises us all by the care shown in the donation of time, first aid, transporting and seeing to the injured man’s extended care. This despicable Samaritan was truly a “neighbor.” Summertime is a festive time here in Buffalo as we celebrate many occasions: graduations, family reunions, and summer weddings. At most gatherings when we arrive after greeting out hosts we gravitate toward groups of people we know. Being in the company of people who share common experiences, interests etc., make us feel more secure and comfortable in larger groups. In the most recent past many new immigrant arrivals gravitated toward neighborhoods with fellow countrymen. Thus, here in Buffalo we could identify the Italian, Polish, Irish, and German sections of town. While this provided comfort and ease for our first generation grandparents and great grandparents, many of whom didn’t speak the English language, it also was fertile ground for isolationism and the deception that “our way” is the only “best way.” These tendencies cut us off from the marvelous blessings and enrichment we could and should experience, if we took the time and patience to live among people very different from ourselves. In the city of Buffalo, the West Side, which in the past was the stronghold of Buffalo’s Italian community, is now the most cosmopolitan face of the “City of Good Neighbors.” Is it easy to live beside peoples of different cultures, religions, languages and different values and expressions? No, it is more difficult. It takes time and effort to peacefully live beside others and learn their cultures,traditions and values. It takes a great deal of openness and understanding that people who are very different from us can share common ground with us and together enjoy life as neighbors. This summer, let’s go out of our way to visit with and enjoy many of our new neighbors.
A LONG WALK TO WATER is a work by Linda Sue Park and tells the story of a young man, one of the “Lost Boys” of the Sudan, Salva Dut. It is part of the 7th Gr. curriculum throughout most school districts in Western NY. For the last three years, our children at Nativity of Mary School have had it as part of their curriculum and each year they welcome guests from ROTA: Reaching Out 2 Africa to come and speak about its humanitarian ministries, meet at least one of the “Lost Boys” and learn how they can make an impact on children around the world. During Fr. Ron’s last visit to the Diocese of Masaka in Uganda in May 2018 he visited the St. Maria Goretti school. It’s one of the poorest schools in the region with 466 students, Gr. 1-7. A new classroom addition was dedicated and funded by ROTA. Fr. Ron noticed that the large capacity of students didn’t have adequate sanitary facilities, nor did they have a reliable source of clean water. St. Maria Goretti was added to the list of schools that ROTA assisted through funding that comes from young people dedicated to help other youngsters. Two fundraisers over a two years, brought in enough funding for a new water tank, plumbing and a new student latrine station. This June photos and video arrived showing the students excited and thankful for the students of Nativity of Mary School whose efforts changed the lives of this poor school half a world away.