Sunday, July 10, 2016

"...if it does not have works"

Our Apostolate is in the early stages of its endeavor 
to respond in some small way to our Lord’s charge to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). To date, we have visited 1,502 homes and have received and responded to 524 Prayer Requests. During two particular visits we found families struggling immensely under the weight of severe economic pressure and in both cases we returned (unrequested and unexpected) with gift cards for food and other necessities in the amount of $100 per family. Subsequent to our return, we learned of individuals who hadn't eaten an actual meal in two days. There are others we are witness to and we will continue to do everything within our means to provide some level of relief.

These are our neighbors, our brothers and sisters, with hopes and dreams, and desires like each of us, yet find themselves living on the edge, struggling to obtain even the barest of necessities. They are our family members who often feel disconnected from the “community of believers” as the weight of the world burdens their hearts, drawing them ever-more inward. These aren’t people who can be saved with dogma, doctrine, or devotions, nor will you necessarily find them registering for a faith formation class or joining us for a celebration of the Eucharist. They are friends we’ve never met who need genuine love and compassion that seeks nothing in return, giving all that it can, while patiently stepping back and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in His time. 

Throughout Christ’s ministry He traveled from town to town, walking the streets, going person to person bringing His message of salvation, forgiveness, hope and love. He delivered forgiveness and freedom to the woman caught in adultery (see John 8), not in the synagogue, but in the filth of the street she huddled in, as she sought shelter from the stones that were to be directed at her. He traveled the dusty roads of Jericho calling Zacchaeus the Tax Collector and sinner to “come down quickly for today I must stay at your house” (Luke 19:5). In so doing, Jesus freed Zacchaeus from the slavery of sin with forgiveness, making him whole through His love. Our Lord journeyed to Sychar delivering hope to the Samaritan woman at the well, transforming her and the hearts of "Many of the Samaritans of that town [who] began to believe in him because of the word of the woman" (John 4:39). Upon returning to the streets of Cana he came upon a royal official whose son was ill, and Jesus, in His Love and Mercy healed him. (see John 4:46-54). 

Like the 72 Disciples “whom he [Jesus] sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit” (Luke 10:1), so too by virtue of our Baptism, we are sent out “like lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3) to help prepare the way and to “Bear one another’s burdens, and…fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). In going beyond the four walls of the Church as our Savior did, and as He Himself commanded us to do, we are able to meet people where they are truly at, and in so doing come to perhaps more clearly witness what they may need, so that with God's help we might find a way to lift them up, even if only temporarily, for a moment of genuine peace. We do this not because of who we are as individuals, but because of what we are; we do this because we are Christians. 

"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead" (James 2:14-17). 

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