It's great to be back in Holy Family. And doesn't our freshly painted sanctuary look great? As has been the case the past two years, I am returning from Peru in the middle of our Sacrificial Giving Campaign. Before I present our lay speaker, I would like to give a brief homily on the Gospel we have just heard.
This Sunday (as well as the next two) Jesus speaks to us about the end of the world. It may seem like an event in the distant future, but it has immediate implications for us. At present we live in a mixture of good and bad. Our world is neither black nor white, but gray like a winter sky. But spring will come. At the end of time the confusion will clear up; the gray will disappear; darkness will be separated from light. Then it will be evident how all along we have been choosing to either be with God or against him. Because of the clarity of that final day, Jesus tells not to prepare any personal defense. Elaborate arguments will be unnecessary.
Let me give an example from my recent visit to Peru. I had the opportunity to attend a confirmation of some forty young people. The bishop spoke to them about the choices they would have to make and then gave a dramatic example. In the central part of Peru during the years of political terrorism, an armed group entered a town. They held a «trial» of one of the town officials, sentencing him to die. To implicate the townspeople, they handed a pistol to a young girl and told her to execute him. She was sixteen or seventeen years old, had very little education, but she knew the commandments. She said, "God has told us, 'You shall not kill.'"
The terrorists said, "if you do not shoot him, we will kill you."
The girl replied, "then kill me." They took the pistol from her hand and murdered her.
The bishop then told the confirmation candidates that this girl died because of her belief in God and her fidelity to his commandments. Perhaps they would not face such a dramatic choice, but they would have to decide if they would also put their faith in God and obey his commands.
You and I also make a choice during this Sacrificial Giving campaign. Do we put God first in our lives? We see a good part of the answer in how we use the gifts he has given us. We are asked to return a portion to Him by supporting our parish. The needs of this parish are great. We are not only trying to maintain our parish programs and facilities, but to provide for the future. We are also aware of needs in our Archdiocese and even in other parts of the world. Last Sunday for instance you gave $3,316 for the victims of the hurricane in Central America.
While in Peru I was reminded of another example of Sacrificial Giving. My first day in Lima I visited the birthplace and the tomb of St. Martin de Porres. He is one of the saints depicted in the stain glass windows of Holy Family Church. He is holding a broom which symbolizes the way he took the most humble jobs, including being cook at the Dominican Monastery in Lima. He was a fair cook, but there was one problem--he gave out food to any needy person who came to the monastery. He even would share with animals: the dog, the cat and even the mouse. One day he had given out so much food that when the brothers returned, he only had one piece of bread. The brothers were furious. Martin bowed his head in shame and prayed. At that moment the single piece of bread became two, then four, and so on until there was enough for all. This miracles--which is well attested--is depicted in the stain glass window. Martin is shown holding a basket full of bread. This indicates something very important. When we share sacrificially, God has a way of taking care of our needs and even giving us an abundance.
With that spirit in mind, I ask you to listen attentively to the testimony of one of fellow parishioners, Mr. Jim Lambo.
From Archives (33rd Sunday, Year C):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish
Article about Fund Raising Event for Mary Bloom Center (Spanish)
Centro Mary Bloom