Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Lord,
Welcome to this week’s Disciples Together on the Way Challenge. This is our final week focusing on the Corporal Works of Mercy! In the Book of Deuteronomy, the Lord tells us, “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore, I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.” (Dt. 15:10-11) Since there will always be the poor, there will always be the opportunities to serve and support them.
During this time of the year, the needs of the poor tend to increase. As the days grow shorter and colder, food, shelter and appropriate clothing become even more essential. Indeed, next week we will celebrate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a natural time for us to increase our corporal works of mercy. As we reflect on the bounty and blessings the Lord has bestowed upon us and our loved ones, in gratitude our response can turn to giving back.
For many families, this time of year is already a time where they may participate in a food drive, or even go to work at a shelter serving meals to those in need before they go home to enjoy their own celebration. We know from looking at the lives of the saints that many of them achieved their sanctity by serving the poor. Just think of St. Catherine of Siena in 14th century Italy, Saint Vincent de Paul in 17th century France or, in our own times, St. Teresa of Calcutta in 20th century India. There are many saints who have given their time, talent, and treasure to the poor. Through their actions, they not only brought Jesus to the poor, but also encountered God in them. As St. Vincent DePaul stated, “Go to the poor: you will find God.”
In addition to the witness of so many saints in their ministry to the poor, there is also to call to us to this form of holiness and discipleship. The Book of Psalms tells us “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Ps. 82:3-4). We also read in the First Letter of Saint John: “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 Jn. 3:17-18)
In recent years, the various Catholic Charities entities throughout the Diocese of Lansing have been working towards greater collaboration with each other and with the parishes near to them. As we wrap up this final week focused on the Corporal Works of Mercy, let us look for more opportunities to help the poor and those in need.
So, here’s this week’s challenge: Donate to your local Catholic Charity or local St. Vincent DePaul food pantry or look for another food pantry or local food drive and donate food or money. And don’t just give your money, volunteer to serve in the soup kitchen.
See the Diocese of Lansing website, where you can find links to our various organizations and learn about the ways you can help. https://www.dioceseoflansing.org/catholic-charities
May God bless you and your families as you prepare to give thanks for all He has done for you, and as you seek out ways to serve the poor in your lives.
+ Earl Boyea
Bishop of Lansing