September 25 – Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” ~St. Theresa of Kolkata
Continuing the theme from last Sunday’s readings where the Lord lifts up the poor, we reflect on the story of Lazarus and Dives (rich man) as we hear the strong words of the prophet Amos who condemned “the complacent of Zion” for their neglect of the sufferings of the Hebrew people.
Sometimes we need to be confronted by those who get “in our face” and challenge us to put our faith in practice. Last weekend I noticed a gentleman sleeping on a bench in the back entrance of Old St. Mary Parish. He spent the entire morning sleeping soundly until the ushers asked him to leave after the last mass. We are met on the street, at freeway entrance and exit ramps and in front of businesses by people asking for money. We are advised to give to our favorite charity instead of handing out money. Last week, I was walking downtown and a gentleman showed me a sign that read “Please give.” I responded by asking “Give to what?” He turned the home made sign over and was asking for help. I told him to go to the Open Door Café at the Cathedral but he responded it was too early. I don’t know about you, but I struggle with how to respond to the requests for money.
The rich man went to the netherworld after he died and saw Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham. Dives was condemned for neglecting the poor beggar who was lying at his door. That is why I used the quote from St. Theresa of Kolkata. St. John Paul II in his homily on Oct. 2, 1979 at Yankee Stadium reminded us: “Christ demands an openness that is more than benign attention, more than token actions or half-hearted efforts that leave the poor as destitute as before or even more so.”
Our family of four parishes continues to respond generously to our outreach efforts whether that be the Riverwest Food Pantry, St. Ben’s or All Saints meal programs, our two community gardens and our support of the St. Vincent de Paul ministry. Fr. Tim and I offer our thanks to all of you for helping “the least” in our midst. Don’t forget to make your donation this month to the Riverwest Food Pantry. Jesus thanks you; so does Lazarus.
Fr. Mike Michalski
September 18 – Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
As the political campaigns rage on, and the processes leading to the election of a new president fill our minds and the TV commercials, we pray for civil dialogue and a discussion and consideration of those issues so important to the living of a full and productive life for all in our community.
It occurs to me that not much is being said about the poor in all the hot air that is being set forth. The prophet Amos from our first reading this Sunday would not be happy. The poor, it seems, have always been lower on the agenda of prevailing powers.
Yet in this year of mercy, our Holy Father challenges us to be a church with a heart set on taking care of the poor, and we need to discuss why there are poor in our beautiful country in the first place. I am the descendant of immigrants, and because of their hard work I am who I am today. But they were able to get good jobs!
My heart breaks at the lack of good jobs for people, especially for those who want to work for their families. My heart breaks at lost opportunities to make our systems work for the good of all. My heart breaks at kids who don’t have enough to eat and come from abysmal settings that work against their advancement and performance.
My heart breaks.
But I am going to keep praying that we start talking about all this. My country and its citizens deserve this!
Sincerely, with love,
September 11 – Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Cor 5:19)
These words taken from the Gospel Acclamation for today summarize the full scope of our Scripture lessons for today. Paul tells us: “This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Tm 1:15) Our God is the good shepherd who seeks the lost sheep who wanders from the fold, leaving the other ninety-nine sheep in the desert. Our God is the housekeeper woman who sweeps the house to find the lost coin. Our God is the Prodigal Father who welcomes his son home who had spent half of the family inheritance. In this Year of Mercy we hear how Jesus was accused of welcoming sinners and eating with them. The banquet table of love is the table of mercy. To quote one of the hymns we sing at liturgy: All who hunger, gather gladly.
This weekend we commemorate the 15th Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. It’s hard to believe how fast time flies. We join in solidarity with all those people who lost loved ones in the attacks, including those who died in the rescue efforts by first responders. We condemn all forms of violence as we work for peace. I noticed an online article about an organization called 9/11 Day. This organization led the efforts that established the anniversary of September 11 as an annually recognized National Day of Service and Remembrance under bi-partisan federal law in 2009. More than 30 million Americans now observe this day through charitable service and good deeds, transforming “9/11 Day” into the largest annual day of charitable engagement in America.
Continuing the Year of Mercy, we will focus this month on Feeding the Hungry with a focus on the Riverwest Food Pantry, St. Ben’s and the CROP Walk which takes place in October. Thanks for your ongoing support of the Pantry and the Community Gardens at St. Rita site and St. Casimir site.
Continue to pray for vocations, including our seminarian intern at Three Holy Women Parish: Andrew Infanger and our aspirant (first year) for the Permanent Diaconate for SS. Peter and Paul Parish: David Uy along with his wife Mary Kate Dodge.
Go do random acts of kindness. Take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and be reconciled with your brothers and sisters.
In love and prayer,
Fr. Mike Michalski
September 4 – Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
“People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway.”
(St. Mother Teresa of Kolkata)
In these time of great struggles, the light of a new saint gives us hope! With all that has been going on in our world, our country and our beloved city, perhaps now is a time to pray ever more fervently to a new saint who faced such darkness in the slums of Kolkata and in her own heart.
Sanctity is not earned, but recognized in a person so that when we see them and experience them, we see not them, but Christ. We experience not their talents and successes, but their fidelity to the power of Christ working through human weakness to bring about the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of justice and peace and respect and compassion.
It all started for St. Mother Teresa of Kolkata with a small simple act of human kindness and decency. So let’s ask her to send us opportunities to become saints, one simple act at a time. Let us approach the darkness of our world not with judgment or prejudgment, not with fear and doubt, but with one small act that shows our commitment to Christ.
Who knows where that will lead us? Let’s all try!
In the words of our new saint—
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
Sincerely, with love,