In the first homily of this series I talked about two basic fundamentals of the Christian life and the mission of the Church for all of us. (1) We need to place God first in our lives giving Him the time, effort and energy needed to follow His commands. It isn’t enough to know what God wants but we must do it too trusting Him!! (2) We need to invest ourselves completely to the Lord giving Him our time, energy, gifts and resources so that His will is done. We don’t just give God Sunday mornings—our entire lives belong to Him. This is difficult for all of us but this is key to happiness and fulfillment in our lives!
Allowing God to guide us in our lives lets us see the world in a better and different perspective. With the lens of faith we can read the signs of the times and become aware of God’s light in our world and the places of darkness that requires our ministry, service and love.
WHAT ARE WE SEEING TODAY?
As the days are getting colder (although this fall has been amazing), leaves are changing colours and falling to the ground, and the snow shovels are on sale in our stores—we know that winter is coming. All of us need to prepare by changing to winter tires, finding our gloves, winter clothing and begin our Christmas shopping. We know that we need to act so we are not caught off-guard.
What signs is God showing us as a Church that requires action? The fundamental essence of the Church (that is—you and me) is to be a sign of hope, love and light in our world— to engage the world with grace and the Good News of the Gospel. We know that in our own communities we see many people who are in need. The homeless, hungry, working poor, seniors, the forgotten and those ignored on the fringes. There are many people who need God’s grace in a special way to comfort, support, empower and embrace into our lives. The Church places those who are in need as the top priority for our actions of love and service. This is not limited to material assistance but building a family that includes everyone. That family supports each other as brothers and sisters.
WORLD DAY OF THE POOR
This weekend we celebrate the fifth World Day of the Poor instituted by Pope Francis. It is a way to call the Church back to the basics of the Gospel. We are called to share God’s love with everyone. The Gospel is a transformative experience when we open our hearts to being Jesus for others. I want to share some quotes from the message given by Pope Francis for the World Day of the Poor 2021.
(1) SEEING JESUS TODAY
“We do not find him when and where we want, but see him in the lives of the poor, in their sufferings and needs, in the often inhuman conditions in which they are forced to live.”
Pope Francis is reminding us that we encounter Christ when we serve the poor and those in need. We do not only serve the poor to help others but to see Jesus and learn from Him. This is done by encountering the poor, who are a concrete sign of God’s presence among us. We serve those in need to meet Christ in a very real way in our world.
(2) EMBRACING THE POOR
“The poor are not people ’outside’ our communities, but brothers and sisters whose sufferings we should share, in an effort to alleviate their difficulties and marginalization, restore their lost dignity and ensure their necessary social inclusion.”
Those in need are our brothers and sisters who are part of our family. All of us have a direct and primary responsibility not only to support materially and financially, but strive to be inclusive—embracing those who are on the fringes giving them dignity, respect and a part in our daily lives. We need to be in solidarity with those in need making their sufferings, challenges and struggles our own.
One of the most challenging aspects of true service to the poor is the sense of division creating an “us and them” relationship. Our faith calls us to live very differently. Pope Francis reminds us that living our faith means that we are Jesus in the world which requires far more than a transactional encounter. “Yet following Jesus entails changing this way of thinking and embracing the challenge of mutual sharing and involvement.” A conversion of heart does not simply mean we believe in Christ but that we live like Him to the best of our abilities each day.
(3) A NEED FOR CONVERSION
“This conversion consists primarily in opening our hearts to recognizing the many different forms of poverty and manifesting the Kingdom of God through a lifestyle consistent with the faith we profess.”
To truly serve, support and embrace the poor, we need a conversion experience in our own lives which then helps transform our society. Living the Good News is really making room for everyone at our tables and not giving away what is left over. Transformation occurs when we go “back to the basics” allowing faith to dictate our actions daily.