Humans have many needs but the most basic is food. Food is, of course, always mentioned together with clothing and shelter in terms of the minimum needs for survival. However, for certain periods of time at least you can survive with a limited amount of clothing and might find some temporary substitute for shelter, even under a bridge, but food we all have to have and we have to have it steadily or we will simply weaken and die.
Despite the depth of the current recession, most of us are still getting by rather well, but thousands upon thousands are not and in many families food is a real issue. I would like to congratulate those parishes that have the children bring up cans or boxes of nonperishable food every Sunday at the offertory procession. That gives the children an opportunity to really learn the importance of being concerned about others. Most especially, I thank God for the Capital Area Food Bank. They gather and distribute millions of pounds of food but never really have enough. Anything the rest of us can do to help them is important work.
Remember, several weeks ago on Judgment Day we heard our Lord’s word saying when you fed the hungry you were really feeding me. If we live that Gospel fully, we will all make the cut!
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This is my brother, Frank. We buried him last month at the ripe young age of 82.
Our nation is now several centuries old, and we’ve gone from a continent of forests and beavers to a land of skyscrapers and freeways. It did not happen over night. It happened because countless men and women exercised their education, skill and sweat to bring about what we now call the United States of America.
My brother, Frank, was one of those people. He got into construction when he came out of high school, and stayed at it until he retired. In the 50s and 60s, Frank worked mostly on downtown high rises, and towards the end he had to go farther afield, ultimately finding himself in northern Canada, Greenland and Iceland. Like so many other Americans of that time, he was risking his life to make America safe. He was going up four to six hundred feet on towers that were only about eight foot square. He admitted that they gave a little in the wind. I always thought that my brother was very brave, and was willing to do whatever was necessary to support his wife and seven children. (Good Catholic, right?) Brave though he was, he was still human, and after his retirement he stepped off a simple curb and broke his hip.
To me Frank is symbolic of the men and women who have expended so much in order to build our nation into what it is today. Gratitude is called for. Being grateful for the gifts that we receive from others has the potential to enrich our lives.
Let’s indeed be grateful!
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In today’s excerpt, Jesus is taking a break from his ongoing walk towards Jerusalem. We see our Lord in a relaxed manner dealing with the dregs of that society – “tax collectors and sinners.” The Pharisees are scandalized and this brings forth one of the greatest of the parables – that of the prodigal son. You all know the story. Let me suggest a different direction.
In the wonderful book, “The return of the Prodigal Son; a Story of Homecoming” Henri Nouwan takes a very interesting approach. He says that the main issue in the parable is not the actions and failures of the prodigal son, but rather of the unloving, unforgiving older brother.
What is your take on that? Let’s listen to the readings today with a different focus, and see what we can learn.
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