15 FEBRUARY 2009

Making a Difference in Somebody Else’s Life

       While we here in the United States do not often see “lepers”, there are many other people and families who are living on the fringes of our society such as might be experienced with the leper colonies. They might be suffering from illness, disease and or poverty. In our first reading today it is more or less a “how-to” book for the Levitican priests on how to minister to the faithful. Not to make light of leprosy, fortunately in today’s society we don’t have to stand in line at Father Dan’s office for him to determine if we are clean or unclean. I don’t think his training or background supports him playing the role of the Levitican priests in our first reading today.

       While we as Catholic Christians may not come into contact with people suffering from leprosy, we do from time to time come in contact with people who are less fortunate than ourselves. These may be the sick and suffering or dying. These people might be in prison or living in less than comfortable housing than what most of us enjoy.

       They might also include the elderly and the widows and orphans, I do not believe we have a homeless population here in Brownsburg, but we don’t have to go to many miles to the east of here to encounter the homeless.

       Upon reflecting on today’s first reading and the Gospel, my thoughts were of our brothers and sisters at St. Marguerite parish in Port Margo Haiti. For those of us who have been there to support our sister parish it is a very moving experience. First of all the smells in the city of Cap Haitian are just hard to imagine, and as we traveled through that town the poor housing conditions and the people on the streets just milling about watching us go by just tears at your heart.

       The streets in Port Margot are dirt roads full of potholes and very rough indeed. Now I am sure, our parish families, in Haiti, don’t want our pity, but I do know they appreciate our prayers and our financial support. They also seem to appreciate our hugs and handshakes. They seem to enjoy our teams when they go down there, and the people there have always treated us well and we certainly have always appreciated that.

       You know we have heard Jesus say that the poor will always be with us and of course we know what we should do as Christians to support them. Less than 5 hours of flying time off the south east coast of the United States is one of the poorest countries in the world and we here at St.Malachy are doing our part to live out the Gospel of caring for the poorest of the poor.

       I saw a sign this past week on a little country church that said “Christianity is not a religion; it is a way of life”. In our gospel reading today Jesus reached out and touched the leper and he was healed. In all of the Old Testament writings it is only written twice of lepers being cured. We hear today of Jesus curing this leper because the leper believed he could be healed if Jesus willed it. Jesus reached out and touched him. That was unheard of in those times to touch or have anything to do with people suffering from leprosy.

       When our people from St. Malachy go down to work with our brothers and sisters at St. Marguerite we do sometimes put ourselves in a position to get sick from the water or badly cooked food or maybe contracting some illness from that part of the world. We do touch and give hugs, I submit to you that if we did not go places such as this, because of fear of contracting an illness or disease, then much would not be done in accordance with the Gospel to love and serve those less fortunate than ourselves.

       As we are preparing for the Lenten season in a few weeks, I would like to encourage you my brothers and sisters here to think of ways that you might make a difference in somebody else’s life. There are so many ways here at St.Malachy to help but also in the diocese. In our formation training as Permanent Deacons we became familiar with Catholic Charities through out the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

       I personally became familiar with the Holy Family Shelter, the Adult day care facility, the Refugee Assistance program, and the Christmas store. These are just a few examples of working with an organization to help make a difference that we can participate in.

       Here in Brownsburg we have a few health care facilities that I am sure would be willing to have you come and visit some of their residents. They enjoy about any kind of entertainment you could provide, if you think you or a small group of you can do something like this, contact the facilities activity director and offer your services or ask what you can do to help make a difference in their facility for their residents. When you read our parish bulletin there are announcements and pleas periodically for help in all kinds of ministries. Pray for guidance on how you might be able to make a difference in some one else’s life.

       In closing let us be reminded of what St. Paul says to the Corinthians in today’s 2nd reading “just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Let us strive to be imitators of Christ’s love and seek to make a difference in some one else’s life, and let us continue to pursue Christianity as a way of life.

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