Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Here's to Ghana! Daily Mass Homily--Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

“…the abundance of their joy and their profound poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” 
I can’t think of a better way to describe my good friends from the Diocese of Navrongo-Bolgatanga in Ghana, Africa.  As many of you know, I had the privilege to study with four men (Frs. Albert, Kevin, Robert and Peter) from this diocese who became some of my best friends.  Last winter I was blessed to travel to their home country to take part in their ordination to the priesthood.
This experience was one of the greatest blessings of my life.  I was inspired by the hospitality, joy, generosity and welcome I received.  Two examples come to mind to explain.  First, my good friend Albert’s family lived in the country and only received electricity at their home a few years ago.  Imagine this! normal people like you and me without electricity.  Yet when I arrived at their house there was a comfy reclining chair and an ice cold beer waiting for me. 
Second, on our last evening I asked Fr. Ezekiel (a priest from their diocese who was ordained a year before me) if any shops were open to pick up some gifts for my family.  They weren’t.  He called someone he knew to open his shop and I was able to pick up a few items.  I went to pay and Fr. Ezekiel said, “No, no, no.  You are not paying for these.”  I answered, “Um, yes I am.  That’s what you do when you buy something!”  “You are my guest.  It’s taken care of.”  Here was a priest who did not earn a salary (like I do) paying for my gifts!  That is hospitality.
I have found it true that the people we Americans consider poor are actually more joyful and generous than our culture.  With all the resources we have, we can start thinking that we are self-sufficient and hold desperately to my stuff.  Other people who have less than us recognize what is truly important—God, family and sharing gifts we have.  We must counter such temptations by cultivating hospitality in our own society to share the abundant gifts we have been given.
I am excited that a group of 28 of us will be traveling to Ghana to visit our brothers and sisters in Navrongo-Bolgatanga.  My prayer is that this experience will help our young people, parents and teachers reassess what is really important in our lives and bring the spirit of joy and generosity back to our parish.  

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