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Friday, November 9, 2012

I Need Your Help!

A few weeks ago on Sunday.. After Mass my Priest stands up after the announcements and begins to share a need and asked us all to help.

With words of urgency and hand jesters to communicate to all of us sitting in our pews…. Our Pastor begins to share with us this great need to help him with an emergency that cannot wait.

What was the emergency?

Fr. Tony: “My Parishioners I need your help! I have just got word that a family has just crossed the border and has no place to stay. They have a young child, no food, no money and need some immediate help.”

We all sat in our familiar pew…taking in his words…speechless for a moment.

Then one lady spoke up.. “We own some rent houses and I might be able to let them stay in one…but I need to speak with my husband before I can give you an answer.”

Fr. Tony: “that will not work I need a commitment now! They need a place tonight and I need someone to step up now and help!”

As I sat in my pew I nudged my husband…. And whispered, “Whatcha think?” He responded back with a “No!” as he squirmed in his seat.

Fr. Tony: “Come on folks I need someone to help! And I promise I will help in any way to make the transaction to your home go well.”

I raised my hand… “Fr. Tony so how old is the child?”

Fr. Tony: “about 2-3 years old.”

I nudged my husband again…. “they have a baby.” He replied…while squirming closer to me.. “They probably do not speak English.. how are we going to communicate with them?”

As I sat there… taking this all in, I could only think of this baby. I also thought about the RV we owned. They could stay in there for just one night.. we could pray about it and understand more of the situation when they arrived. This would not really be committing us… it would give us a way out? If….. this cramped our lifestyle?

So, I raised my hand again… without my husband’s permission.. thinking to myself… self… “Sure I might get in trouble without his permission…but he will come around.. He always does and who knows we might be missing out on a blessing here.”   With my hand raised… “Fr. Tony! We have an RV we can let the family use tonight. I am not sure about the long term part yet…need to pray about it.. but, they can have a place to sleep tonight.”

Oh my gosh…what have I got us signed up for? … uggggg.. my mind was going in all directions as I finally utter a “Yes” we will help. As my mind swirled from one thought, to the next… thought… I was committed and there was no turning back.. But, I reminded myself.. “It’s just for one night.”

So, here comes Fr. Tony toward us…carrying a bag. Oh my! what is in this bag? Must be some of their belongings they need or directions or tooth brushes with toothpaste? What have I done?

So I ask you… as you read this.. pause and think…what would you do? A BABY! A FAMILY needing HELP! Was I wrong in making this commitment? 

My heart and my anxiety grew stronger and stronger as Fr. Tony walks towards us with this old looking, crumpled paper bag… He finally arrives at our pews where we are both sitting and hands this bag to us…. “Here is your family.. it is the Holy Family they have just crossed the border and are fleeing to Egypt. “ I opened the bag… and the family we are to take home with us is baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

What a visual lesson that was… Am I hero? No, not at all! As Fr. Tony handed me that bag I realized what a selfish person I really am and how far I have to go… to truly understand what true love really means. No limits! We say we love our neighbors… but do we really? When we are challenged with sacrifice.. who me? We really understand what God’s love truly means. Jesus gave us His all….all the way to the cross. No limits..
Which brings me to this conclusion:

So...... “How we are supposed to be folks of faith.. not any faith… Christian faith.” A faith whose foundation is a God of unconditional love. Mark 12:28-34
"The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'There is no other commandment greater than these. Do we truly understand what love really means in a society in which we live? And who is our neighbor? Folks we have things in common with?
Which is the first of all the commandments? Jesus replied, “The first is this…the second is this.” Mark 12: 28-31
My devotional in “the Word among us” challenged my thoughts and encouraged me to truly seek and work toward these words in which Jesus gave us…in which we are to live by. If we as Christian’s truly lived these words…. We could be such a witness to this world. But division among the faithful such " Nationalities or even Denominations" and "Political Views, Social Status, Rich, Poor and Religious Views" speaks volumes to those who do not know Him.. Do we really know what these words mean?
Love God and love your neighbor. The wisdom of these words may not strike us with freshness that would conveyed to Jesus’ audience. The idea that the first and greatest command is to love God with all your hearts and souls wasn’t a new thought. It’s recorded in a much older reading in Hebrew Scripture (Deu. 6:5). But the idea that loving one another is just as important was much more groundbreaking. Jesus considered these two commands bound so closely together that he taught that if someone is offering a gift at the altar---- loving God----and remembers that his brother has something against him, he must leave his gift and go love his brother first (Matt. 5:23-24). And John could write: “Whoever does not love a brother and sister, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20)
There’s something about loving God with our whole hearts that naturally flows into loving other people. Perhaps it is because God has created us in his own image. There’s a picture of Him, a treasure from Him, in each of us. So when we see each other, we are seeing a reflection of the Lord. Or maybe it’s because God loves each of us with such fierce devotion that for us not to share that love with each other would be an offense to Him. Or maybe both!
In the end, it does not matter which approach is best. What matters is that you do something about it! God has called us to love each other just as fully as we love Him. That’s not always an easy task,
and some people seem determined to make it even harder for us. But our Father is ready to help. He is waiting for us to take the first steps. Then He will respond with DIVINE grace to soften our hearts..
Then my Sunday Missal Devotion on this subject: The scribe states; “(Love for God and neighbor) is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” This is a Jewish hyperbolic (exaggerated) saying for: “Sacrifices that are routine and void forms have no value.” Isaiah makes the same kind of strong statement (Is 1:13). The meaning is formalism and void symbols in religion are worthless. The conclusion however is not: Stop praying and worshiping!” Rather the clear lesson is “Love God in your neighbor and show him/her your directly in meaningful prayer and worship! Do both and your love will last forever.
My final thoughts are seeing the reality of how hard it is to love at times. Every time I do not keep those two commandments, which sound so easy to keep, then He puts an opportunity in your life that really challenges you…and you find out how hard loving your neighbor really is. And if we really understand the 1st Commandment (Love your God with all your heart)….then we see the 1st is doing the 2nd….. without limits. Have a Blessed Day! Julie
P. S. Thank-you Lord for Father Tony and his love for you and the directions he challenges my faith... to grow.. AMEN