Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Service is edifying: 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

           In college I lived with three of my best friends.  For the first year I roomed with Brian and Ben.  After Brian moved out (he got hitched), Zach took his place.
            I am almost embarrassed to say this, but I was a slob.  My room was nothing short of a disaster and for a long time I didn’t know what the color of the carpet was.  One time, my roommates and I noticed there were no spoons left in the house.  I had a habit of eating a cup of Yoplait yogurt in my room and left the spoon in it when I was done.  Brian claimed he found 38 spoons stuck in yogurt cups.
            Brian, as the father figure of the house, gave me reminders to clean up after myself.  Sometimes these were gentle—other times they were not so gentle.  But I never really got it until Zach moved into the house.  When he did he made cleanliness a game.  He taped four post-it notes in the kitchen and we got points each time we did the dishes.  I won every month!
            In the faith we have a balance between gentle and not so gentle reminders.  In our first reading, we check in with Amos’ continuous rant about the Israelites failure to serve the poor.  Jesus gives us what I consider his most chilling parable in the Gospel.  The rich man was eternally separated from God because he did nothing to serve the poor and ill man Lazarus.
            Our readings have recently been focused on serving the poor.  On the one hand, it is good to get a not so gentle reminder of the importance of service.  On the other hand, we must remember the flip-side to service—it can be very fun.  Serving the poor, sick, hospitalized and destitute is one of the most edifying experiences in life. 
            When I was in seminary without a salary, I remember several of my friends telling me how fun it was to budget money to give away.  At the end of the month they had a few hundred dollars to give away to a cause they wanted to support.  I have imitated my friends in this regard.  In my own budget, 2.5% of my monthly check goes to St. John’s School.  2.5% goes to the parish.  5% goes to some other cause.  While budgeting money this way takes discipline, it is a true joy giving what I have been given to those who need it.
            Fr. Rich and I have been talking about focusing our charitable works at the parish level around the example of Pope Francis.  We are happy to announce we will have our first Pope Francis Committee of Charitable Works on Thursday, October 17th.  We want to get the ball rolling to making service efficient and easy to get involved with at our parish.  In so doing we will be reaching out to the elderly, sick and homebound in our parish as well as assisting at non-profit organizations in Duluth.
            May we have the grace to heed Amos’ and Jesus’ exhortations to serve the poor.  While our readings today give us stern reminders of the vitality of such service, I encourage you to give because it also feels good.

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