Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!
One of the translations of the Wisdom reading today says that believers in God are obnoxious. Yes, you read right. Believers make life inconvenient and uncomfortable for non-believers—by disturbing their consciences and opposing their actions.
And this is mostly because we God-believers set boundaries for ourselves. Boundaries define people and things, just as children cannot come to know who they are unless adults create appropriate boundaries for them. However, our boundaries should never be asserted with arrogance or violence—our goal is to extend the invitation of God’s love into every situation, especially in cases of controversy and conflict. Because even if provoked, Jesus gives us a deeper revelation about how to respond at all times. The greatest Christian, Jesus says, is a servant. And the first service that we are to render to others is hospitality.
Now, many people pride themselves on their hospitality. But when Jesus tells us to welcome the little child, he is referring not just to children, but to all the “little ones” who are so dear to God. Who are they? It is all those who have the needs and vulnerability of children—even though they may be adults with schizophrenia or any mental or physical disability. Whoever is forgotten in prisons, ignored by the wealthy and happy, struggling to survive with some scrap of dignity—whether it be native people, refugees, widows.
Hard and controversial? Maybe. But isn’t the welcoming of God into our midst the whole purpose of our churches and prayers? We are to be the hosts and hostesses of the Reign of God. We will not be able to recognize God in our midst until we break bread with the littlest of God’s little ones.
“What can we answer one who says there is no need to go to Mass, not even on Sunday, because what is important is to live well, to love one’s neighbor? It’s true that the quality of a Christian life is measured by the capacity to love, as Jesus said: ‘By this all men will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another’ (John 13:35); but how can we practice the Gospel without drawing the necessary energy to do so, Sunday after Sunday, from the inexhaustible source of the Eucharist? We don’t go to Mass to give God something, but to receive from Him what we truly need…the Sunday encounter with the Lord gives us strength to live today with trust and courage and to go on with hope.” (Pope Francis, General Audience, December 13, 2017).
Autumn has arrived with its crisp, cool nights, and Mother Nature’s display of stunning colors of foliage to remind us that all is a gift from God! Take time to enjoy this new season in all of its beauty. Have a good week and may God bless you and keep you always in His love!
Listen to my homily today: (Posted after Mass.)
Joyfully in the Lord,
Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish