23rd Sunday 2021
Our reading from James 2 is an eye opener for us as Christians. The writer of this Epistle or letter is thought to be a leader of the early church in Jerusalem and not the Apostle James. His wisdom still applies to us today. This letter is not long, it is only 5 chapters, but it is packed with a lot of great insight for the people of his day as well as to us.
He says to show no partiality, especially when it comes to how you treat a well-dressed rich person vs a poor person in shabby clothes.
This reading made me think of how we might be inclined to treat a homeless person if they were to enter our church in shabby clothes.
Would we be inviting, or would we walk away from them and let the usher or the priest “handle” the situation?
Why do we treat the homeless person differently?
Are we doing what Jesus would do? Jesus did not look at a person from the outside, because he was fully divine as well as fully human. Jesus looked at their heart and regardless of their outer appearance, he helped them.
In the Gospel, Jesus heals a deaf man and takes away his speech impediment. Jesus puts his finger into the man’s ears, and he touched his tongue and healed him.
Would we do the same if the homeless person in shabby clothes came to us for help? Would we try to avoid that person instead of helping him?
This week, I have been praying about what more can I do and what more can we do as a parish to help the homeless and the poor in our area. Then the Spirit reminded me that we have a ministry that we support that does a lot for the homeless and the poor. We have a conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and we support them financially as a parish. That is a start, yes.
But we, that includes me, can DO more. They need more volunteers. We can volunteer to help the poor by getting involved in St. Vincent de Paul. We certainly give them a lot of our treasure as a parish. Now we should pray about giving them time and talent too.
In one of their formation manuals, it says this “In the course of his life and ministry, St. Vincent de Paul came to see that his charism, the grace given to him by the Holy Spirit to use for building up the Church – was to preach the good news to the poor and to make the love of God a reality in the lives of the poor. Vincent’s charism is captured in the grace of “finding the face of Christ in the poor.”
The manual also says that Jesus stands at the center of our Vincentian Charism. Jesus’ said, “You will always have the poor with you,” are the reason for Vincentian existence. The poor are the “preferential option” for Vincentians. Vincentians seek their holiness in service of the poor.
The members of the Society of St Vincent de Paul live out their charism each day in their actions, by person-to-person ministry and by home visits to the poor. COVID 19 has required some adjustments to their home visits, but they still go out to visit the poor to listen to their story and to help them with their needs.
Brothers and sisters, if you have ever thought about what more I can do to help the homeless and the poor in our area, then I highly recommend that you call their office this week (they may be closed on Monday for Labor Day) and speak to one of them about your desire to get involved.
You know that I normally do not spend most of my homilies talking about a particular ministry, but as I said the answer to my prayer was that I need to do more too.
Do we have any of the members of St Vincent de Paul here today in the mass? If you are here, please stand so we can recognize what you do!
We say thank you to all who support St Vincent de Paul and we encourage more of our parishioners to consider supporting them financially or by becoming a member of their local conference.
God bless you all and have a safe Labor Day holiday.