Thursday, July 30, 2015

Loving Service

It does not take much to do good, to relieve suffering or to show love.

Consider the example of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

When she moved to India to serve the poorest of the poor, she had nothing. She had no master plan or endowment to start her order. Rather she simply walked the streets, feeding the hungry and caring for the sick with whatever resources she could muster. She gave the little she had and through her generosity and holiness she touched many hearts and changed many lives.

One day she was out walking the streets when she came upon a homeless man dying in the gutter. With the help of some men, she had him brought to her home. There she washed him, prepared a small meal for him and prayed. For three hours she did nothing but sit with him.  He looked up at her and said, “My whole life I have been treated like an animal, now I will die like an angel.” She was not able to give him much - just her time and her love - yet it gave dignity to a man in his final hours on earth so that, instead of dying in the streets he could die in the arms of a saint.

When we read through the gospels, we discover that Jesus never turns away those in need. Whether they have a question, whether they need healing or whether they are hungry, He gives them what He has and it never fails to satisfy. Today’s story about the multiplication of the loaves and fish is a case in point. The five barley loaves and two fish would not have been enough to feed the apostles, never mind a throng of five thousand men. Yet Jesus refuses to keep the food to Himself. Rather He took it, blessed it and gave it away. That small act of generosity was enough to satisfy a hungry mass of people with plenty left over.

How often do we have the opportunity to help someone but look the other way because we are afraid that we do not have enough resources, enough talents or enough time to do any good? How often do we cling so jealously to the little we have that we cannot open our hands to give to those who have even less than we do?

It is a spiritual law that God uses those who have the least ability to do His work. We often say, “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.” Well, when God wants to get something done, He asks a poor person. By choosing those who are weak, deprived and even sinful, our Heavenly Father makes it clear that it is He who is at work. Otherwise we might chalk the good deeds up to the cleverness or resourcefulness of those who do them rather than the God who makes all things possible.

God wants to do great things in our families, in our parish and in our community. He wants to feed the hungry, He wants to console the suffering and He wants to change hardened hearts. But He needs us to help Him. He needs us to give even when we think we have too little, to work even when we feel exhausted and to open our mouths even when we think we have nothing to say. We need to take risks as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta did by ministering to those dying on the streets and as the boy in the gospel did who gave His basket of food to Jesus. When we do that, when we step outside our comfort zone in faith, God will take care of the rest.

What is God calling me to give? Where does He want to send me to find the hungry and the suffering? Who needs to hear me witness about my faith? What would it take for me to really surrender my time, treasure and talents to His service? Those are all questions we should bring to prayer every day so that God’s healing and saving work may be accomplished through us.

We gather here today like the crowd in the gospel. We have seen the signs of His presence in our lives. We have heard His word, and He will feed us with the bread of life. Simple gifts of bread and wine will be brought to this altar. We will take it, bless it and distribute it and all of us will have our fill. There will even be some left over which we will keep in the tabernacle to take to the sick who could not be with us today. In this Eucharist, Jesus gives us everything He has - His very body. When we leave this place, can we do the same so that the blessings of this Mass may be multiplied throughout our society and throughout our world?

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