Dear Family in Christ,
The most important question in life is this: What must I do to inherit eternal life? God has made us for heaven, but to get there we must prayerfully follow Jesus Christ on earth, for he loved God above all things, and his neighbor as himself, especially the vulnerable.
Jesus Christ willingly died on the cross to cleanse us of sin and rose to heavenly life that we might be justified, in other words, made “just” by being placed among his family in the Church, placed in right relationship to God and others through Jesus Christ, beginning with baptism. Jesus is true and perfect love, and thus he followed God‟s holy commandments perfectly and gives his divine life of grace to those who persistently and prayerfully strive to follow him.
In today‟s Gospel, Jesus gives us the story of the “dishonest judge” who finally gives justice to the widow who bothered him day in and day out. She, like us, sought justice persistently for herself and her neighbor since injustice is a contagion that affects us all, especially the most vulnerable people.
In our particular vocation, we are called to serve Jesus Christ by serving the most vulnerable among us. Most have been called to the vocation of marriage. The children you bring into the world are the most significant poor ones that parents need to serve first and foremost. They are dependent upon you for healthy food and drink, clothing, and shelter.
As well, your children need your love and guidance, your good example and prayerful discipline regard-ing their education, spiritual life and how to build Christian friendships. By having them baptized, registering and engaging them in our Faith Formation program you help them grow to be like Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary. They will become full citizens of the Kingdom of God, and you also will grow in divine faith, hope and love with them.
One way to help form your child‟s faith life is to ask them to buy their favorite non-perishable food and give it to the food shelf, or a gift and give it to our Appala-chian Christmas Mission project sponsored by our CCW (Council of Catholic Women). Our CCW has containers near the entrance of our churches during October for these gifts.
If your child does not have any birthday or Christmas money to buy a food item or gift, perhaps you can ask them to do extra work 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 or gift, have them bring it to the supper table and after the meal prayer, offer up an “Our Father” for the family or person who will receive that gift. Perhaps send a note of prayer with it.
Let us teach our children and godchildren to pray for those who have suffered from natural or moral tragedies, reminding them that God is allowing us to be tested and motivating us to share with one another, to forgive, to seek his forgiveness and to help one another.
Some of the most vulnerable people are those who do not have a home. The homeless need our prayers and compassion. The recent floods in the Appalachian region have caused many families to lose their homes.
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 turned on the lights, there immediately in front of me was a bearded homeless man. 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 fixed up 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 parents 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.
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 how happy I was to have met him and to have prayed for him and his parents. He was poor, hungry and imprisoned with loneliness, and I saw Christ in him. What a great moment and memory of sharing Christ‟s compassion and justice, which means having right relationships with God and others, and rendering to each what they deserve.
Peace in Christ,
Fr. Thomas McCabe