“Is this the manner of fasting I would choose, a day to afflict oneself? To bow one’s head like a reed, and lie upon sackcloth and ashes? Is this what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking off every yoke? Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry, bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own flesh: Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard” (Isaiah 58:5-8).
These words from the prophet Isaiah are worthy of serious reflection as we continue on our journey of faith during this Year of Mercy. They prefigure the message of Jesus in the Gospel when at the last judgment, he says to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me” (Matthew 25:34-36).
St. John Parish has a wonderful array of ministries and services to those in need. So many of you are bringing relief to the hungry, the sick, the homebound, the homeless, the immigrant, the lonely, the hurting. As well, you are truly serving the Lord as you serve them. So many gifts of the Holy Spirit have been manifest in the variety of ways that you all serve.
At the 11:00 Mass this weekend we will be commissioning leaders for Justice Matters, a ministry which seeks to influence public policy and opinion regarding certain social structures in the city of Lawrence and in Douglas County, which inadvertently keep some individuals from having access to basic necessities, such as shelter, health care, employment, child safety, education, and financial stability. Justice Matters is a large organization of people from different faiths and Christian denominations who meet as a group or groups within their particular congregation. They pray and reflect together on ways to work for just government and social structures in order to help lighten the burden of those who for a host of causes, many of which are out of their control, are not able to receive basic services or assistance.
Not everyone has the gift of participating in this particular outreach/ministry of our parish. If, however, you think you may be called to serve the God’s people in this way, please see Justice Matters information in the bulletin and on our parish website. They will welcome you with great appreciation!
These words from the Letter of James are make a fitting conclusion to this Sunday’s Bread to Offer:
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works is dead” (James 2:14-17).
– Fr. Jeff