Caring for the most vulnerable
The most important question in life: What must I do to inherit eternal life? God has made us for heaven, but to get there we have to follow Jesus Christ on this earth, for he loved God above all things, and his neighbor as himself.
Jesus gives us the story of the Good Samaritan to help us understand that our neighbor is not only the person next door, but the person most in need, the most vulnerable person near us.
In our particular vocation, we are called to serve Jesus Christ by serving the most vulnerable among us. Most of you have been called to the vocation of marriage. The children you bring into the world are the first poor ones that you need to serve. They are dependent upon you for healthy food and drink, their clothing and shelter.
Your children also need your love and guidance, your good example and prayerful discipline with regard to their education, spiritual life and how to build Christian friendships. By raising them to be like Jesus, and the Good Samaritan, they will be citizens of the Kingdom of God, and you will also grow with them.
One way to help your children feed the poor is to ask them to buy their favorite nonperishable food and give it to the food shelf. If they do not have any birthday or Christmas money to buy it, perhaps you can ask them to work for it by cleaning out the car, or doing the dishes.
We humans do not live on food alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. There are many people who do not know that God loves them and wants to guide them to heaven through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ prayed for them and offered his sacrificial love on the cross for them. Before giving that food item to the food shelf or bringing it here to church, bring it to your supper table and after the meal prayer, offer up an “Our Father” for the family or person who will receive your gift.
Let us teach our children and godchildren to pray for and help those who have been victims of crime, like the Good Samaritan in today’s Gospel. Jesus also asks us to pray for those who are criminals, and, if possible, to visit those who are in prison. Tell your children why some are in prison, that they must learn to detest their serious sinful behavior and, with the help of God’s love, grow in virtuous relationships with God and others be-fore being freed.
Some of the most vulnerable people are those who do not have a home. The homeless need our prayers and compassion. They not only need a home, but also need to know that God loves them and has a perfect home in heaven that Jesus Christ has provided for all of us who detest our selfishness and seek to help others.
As a youth minister, before becoming a priest, one of my responsibilities was to make sure that no one was in the basement of the Church after Mass. One time after
Saturday night Mass I passed by a dark room. As I tuned on the lights, immediately in front of me was a bearded homeless man. At first, I was surprised, but then I asked if I could help him.
He said that he was only looking for a safe place to sleep. That night I prepared a meal for him and let him sleep in my apartment. As we talked, I asked him about his parents. He told me that he had not seen his par-ents for over twenty years. He was not even sure if they were still alive. I was deeply saddened and had compassion for him and his parents.
I asked him if he missed them and if he prayed for them. He said that he did miss them, but that no one taught him how to pray. That night I wrote the most important prayers for him to pray daily for himself and his parents and other family members and friends: The Lord’s prayer, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be. Together, we prayed for our family and friends that night.
The following morning, we had breakfast and he said that he was grateful that I cared for him, his parents and family. I told him that I was happy to have met him and that we prayed for his parents. He was poor, hungry and imprisoned with loneliness, and I was God’s Good Samaritan, because Christ had saved me. What a great moment and memory of sharing Christ’s compassion.
There are many more stories of how Jesus Christ has come to me in the poor, even before becoming a priest. Maybe some of you will be called to be a Youth Minister, or a religious brother or sister, or maybe you are young man who is called to be a priest, but most people are called to marriage so that as a man and woman united in Christ, you can care for your children, and show them how as a family you can care for the most vulnerable among you.
Peace in Christ, the Perfect Good Samaritan,
Fr. Thomas McCabe