September 25, 2016
Last weekend my homily was inspired by our youth ministry’s current annual theme: Building Peace: what piece will you be? You saw this past weekend, and will see again this weekend, puzzle pieces floating above the sanctuary of the church. These puzzle pieces are inscribed with real life action steps comprised of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy which are ingrained in both Catholic theology and in Catholic social teaching.
The challenge from our youth ministry members is this: “what piece of the peace are you going to be?” The Peace that they are speaking about is the “common good,” or in Catholic terminology—the building up of the Kingdom of God on earth. This Peace is established in-and-through the things we say and do to make God’s love, compassion and hope a reality in the lives of all peoples. And the “Piece” of the “Peace” we are talking about is: what’s your role? What will you do—in word and/or deed—to make the presence of God—Christ—known to another?
Our youth ministry members are challenging themselves—and all of us—to consider what we can do and say to bring about God’s peace in our world—thus asking ourselves “what am I going to do about this? What piece will I be?”
Let’s think about this: Will I feed the hungry? Will I ask God to bless this person or that family with hope or good health? Will I involve myself in the life of another person, actually step into their lives and be a healing factor? We can wonder what would have happened to the mother at the City Gate of Nain, when Jesus stopped and comforted her—and raised her son from the dead. What if he didn’t stop, didn’t notice…didn’t care? What will happen if I don’t stop, notice or care—about another? We must challenge ourselves to: reach out to a school friend who is ridiculed by others—will I add to the ridicule or just stand by silently? Will I consider an elderly neighbor who is alone and be a friend to that person in need? Will I share my blessings—an abundance of clothes, blankets, and household items with an immigrant family who has nothing? Will I share my food with a hungry person? Will I be in solidarity with one who is ostracized by our culture? Will I take the Truth that I have been given by Christ and teach the ignorant? Will I see in the face of a young child who is sick or in the eyes of a mother who is struggling with an illness while caring for her family, or in the fear-filled expression of a senior citizen who has worked hard all their life and now has no health coverage—and see the faces of Christ and then act to help?
In doing these things and more, we are building the Peace of Christ and the Kingdom of God on earth. Our actions, our work here on earth will have an impact on our eternity. Will we stop at the “gates of need” as Christ did at the City Gate of Nain and step into the life situation of another and make a difference? Or will we choose not to be a Piece of the Peace of God, fail to build His Kingdom on earth—and leave the puzzle unfinished?
In order to be a piece of this effort our hearts must be well-formed in faith. To be well-formed in faith, we need to know what God has asked of us, and then to have gratitude for all that we already have been given—our fam-ilies, where we live, the food we have, the life that we were graciously given—and then in gratitude realize that these blessings were not meant just for “my” benefit but to be the gift that keeps on giving, a gift to be shared with others. Gratitude is the thankfulness which empowers us not to be selfish and simply seek more for me, but fuels the desire to serve others. In Eucharistic Prayer II at Mass, the priest says: “Therefore, as we celebrate the memorial of His Death and resurrection, we offer You, Lord, the Bread of life and the chalice of salvation, giving thanks that You have held us worthy to be in Your presence and minister to You.” In the underlined (highlighted) words here, being held worthy to be in Your presence and minister to You means that by ministering to others around us—our brothers and sisters—we minister to the unseen God. “What you do for the least of them, you do for Me.”
Let us take these words to heart and realize that as we serve and care for those around us we are serving and caring for the Lord. He, the Creator of all things, desires us to care for His creation—people, the earth, and all that God has designed to be in His love.
As our youth ministry members work to feed the hungry or make shoes for children in Uganda or visit the elderly and lonely at McClean, as they understand God’s desire for them—to be part of His plan for the Kingdom, accepting that each and every one of them and us were created for a purpose, then we can understand and recognize the many puzzle pieces floating around us so that we may become a piece which builds up the Kingdom of God on earth.
We are very blessed here at Saint Catherine of Siena Parish to have so many ministries and opportunities to work on building the Kingdom of God. We are also blessed to have so many people involved and even more that are willing to become involved in God’s plan of love in one way or another. And there are many avenues to be involved. For some they can be hands on—actually feeding the hungry or visiting the sick or in leading a ministry like the Advent Giving Tree program that supports the Knights of Malta Care; for others, who are too busy to take time off from work or have too many family obligations to do the hands on work but can through their generous support make these ministries flourish in our parish. What we must remember is that we are all part of God’s plan. We all have a part to play, and we should be allowed to play it. May God continue to bless you for all that you do.