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Back Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Thursday, August 8, 2019
From the Desk of Fr. Ron…….
Years ago, I met a young African Sudanese gentleman, a refugee from Gambella, Ethiopia, who was hired by a local nursing home. This was his first job in America. He would take the bus to work and often tired of waiting would walk long distances back to his home. He told me of a group he belonged to that helped him invest his money. Immediately, my radar was engaged and I suspected that someone may be defrauding him of his meager income. His investment group was made up of twelve men with similar backgrounds, many of whom were also from parts of Ethiopia. Each month, they would meet and surrender one hundred dollars to the group. Each month, one member of the group would leave with $1,200 USD to use for those high priced items that their family may need, but never could afford to purchase: a new stove, refrigerator, car repair, etc. I marveled at how simple and yet ingenious this year long committed self-help group functioned.
This weekend’s Biblical lessons revolve around the gift of faith. From the Letter to the Hebrews we hear: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1). The continuation of this second reading selection, gives evidence of Abraham’s faith. By faith, Abraham journeyed from the security of his dwelling to a land that the Lord God would give him. By faith, he believed on the Lord’s word that he and his elderly wife would conceive a child. By faith, he almost sacrificed that only child in a test of his own loyalty. In the Gospel narrative, Jesus challenges his disciples to share all that they have with others and walk by faith in Him: “….for where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Luke 12:34).
These past weeks, have been filled with such sad and tragic events, which indicate just how hard some of our hearts have become toward one another. A growing sense of privilege and entitlement seems to have invaded our consciousness, as race is pitted against race, culture against culture, the “haves” against the “have nots.” The forces of hate and bigotry seem to be winning and we in the Christian community begin to cry and lament like the Jews of old, seeking the return of our Lord and Savior to straighten everything out.
But, my young African friend’s investment group mentioned above and this weekend’s Biblical lessons charge us to greater faith and the realization that we have to be part of the solution and not the problem. Our own family life, parish life, and local community life needs to resemble the authentic values of God’s diverse Kingdom. Only then can these values be “caught” by others. We can’t wait for these values to be legislated by people in power. We need to become a sign that is opposed by the very presence of these values in our everyday life and the life of our church. Many have told us that our parish appears to be a very welcoming place to worship. Let us not fail in being that open and welcoming parish home for all, especially for those among us whom we have yet to know better. Let us lead the way in showing how culture can be enriched not by a false sense of “sameness,” but by the richness of God’s diversity.