Dear Brothers & Sisters,
When we are ordained priests, we always make a card as a memorial of such an important day. On one side there is an icon and at the back, a scriptural passage and the information of the ordination. One of the passages that I almost chose was the last sentence of today’s gospel, For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." The reason I liked this passage is because I feel that the call of each Christian is to serve. Whether as a priest, a married person, widow or single, we are all called to serve one another. As we continue to celebrate the “Respect Life” month, today we will look into how we can serve/help others.
First of all, the service of others does not mean that we do something waiting for something else in return. Nor do we do something for an agenda or a goal that we want to achieve. We serve others because we were served by others first. I’m sorry to quote the famous saying, but it does apply to this situation as well, “everything that goes around, comes around.” Although this is often referred to something bad that is done to others comes back to oneself, so should doing something good as well. In this case, God has loved and served us before we were born.
Secondly, it is important to serve all those around us, regardless of who they are. In a passage from the Gospels (Mt 5:46/Lk 6:32) Jesus says, “If you love those who love, what credit is there, even sinners love those who love them.” In a sense, if we serve those who serve us, what credit is there? This is the least we should do. (It is true that at times we don’t serve those closest to us). We need to serve those in need. Whether it is a person begging on the streets, someone with a disabled car, giving preference for someone else to go ahead in front of you entering in a place or at the intersection. There are many ways we can serve others. We need to be attentive to the needs of others and show acts of kindness to one another so that when the occasion arises, we are there.
Thirdly, we don’t judge the other. If we see a person begging for alms, it’s very tempting to judge that person as lazy, someone who does not work by choice, or someone who will use the money for their vices. Once I heard a priest saying this and it stuck in my mind that what the other person does with the money or the help we give them, it’s something between them and God. However, whether we help that person or not, that will be between God and us! We respond only to our actions. Jesus tells us that every time we serve the least of his brothers, we serve Jesus. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome, lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me." (My 25:35-36). Therefore if we can help a person in need, we can do it out of love for God and our neighbor.
Lastly, we need serve the way we can. Some are called to be leaders on the frontlines helping others. Some are called to contribute with their goods so that people can be helped. Still others are called to support them even in little ways. There is a famous line from Mother Theresa of Calcutta, we cannot do great things, but small things with great love. Whether we can give a quarter, or more, it’s imperative to help the person with love. Even when we can’t help others, at least we can ask their names and pray for them, or wish them a blessed day. Maybe it’s a matter of being prepared to help others, so planning ahead and keep some change in the car. You may have heard the time that I didn’t have any money with me when a person asked for help. However at the time I kept a small package of Oreos in the glove compartment in case I could not have lunch. The moment gave the Oreos to this person, he was so happy and it was worth more than anything to him. Although that was my lunch for the day, his joy was my joy!
Brothers & Sisters, today at the end of mass we have another opportunity to help those in need. The Knights of Columbus will be doing their annual Tootsie-Roll drive to help children with disabilities. It’s actually known as the “Fund Drive for Children with Intellectual Disabilities” and all funds raised are distributed to agencies who provide day care, respite care, and other support services to families with children with intellectual disabilities. In 2019, the Knights in Massachusetts raised and distributed more than a quarter million dollars to more than 25 agencies in eastern Massachusetts. Our local Council #81 came in 11thamong all councils in eastern Massachusetts, and we are hoping to break into the top 10 this year.
I pray we can be generous to others as God has been generous to us! Remember, if God is good all the time and all the time God is good, let’s imitate our Heavenly Father by helping those in need around us.
Father Steven Clemence