“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction…”
Earlier this month I was invited to participate with two other parents and five recently confirmed teens from a St. Pius X “Discipleship Group” in the unloading of a truck of food donations from St. Robert’s parish for the pantry at the Catholic Charities Juan Diego Center. It felt good to join with volunteers from parishes around the city, including four teens and two adults from Our Lady of Guadalupe/St. Agnes’ confirmation program in sorting and transferring the hundreds of pounds of food that were then stocked into the food pantry.
After thanking the other volunteers, Ana Barrios, the Program Director of the Juan Diego Center met with our group and told her own story of emigrating from El Salvador during its civil war and how she came to her present work. She described the immigration services that take place in one part of the building and the micro-business program that operates in another part. She also gave examples of the emergency assistance they give and the many referrals her staff makes to try to help their very diverse clients find the support they need in times of hardship.
I thought of the words of James in today’s reading: “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.” I am glad my son and the other teens could meet Ana, learn a bit about why food donations are needed and work alongside other young and older Christians taking part of their Sunday to be “doers of the word.”
It’s not easy to weave this ‘doing of the word,’ the work of service and justice, into our full lives. Just as I appreciate those who facilitate participative and meaningful liturgy, I am very grateful for those persons in our church dedicated to connecting us who are more comfortable with those who are Christ suffering and exploited today. One tool I have been very grateful for recently is the website www.justiceforimmigrants.org explaining the U.S. Bishop’s campaign “Justice for Immigrants: A Journey of Hope” designed to move us to act for positive immigration reform and to assist migrants in our midst.
Part of why it is hard to be a doer sometimes is that we do not see clearly. Questions that cry out to us to act are so complex and results seem so unattainable. As Jesus used spittle and touch in today’s gospel to heal the blind man, let us use what tools we have to demonstrate the power of God in our midst.
Jesus, we beg you to touch our eyes and help us see the suffering around us and how you wish each of us to use our particular gifts and energy to proclaim the good news of redemption through our work for peace and for justice.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook