This week is such a blessing as reflect on the Word of God with St Paul Catholic Church here in St. Petersburg. Two distinct parishes but with a shared desire to make a positive difference in the lives of others. As we come together through the Mission Co-Op it is an opportunity to be thankful for both the old and new ways we’ve collaborated as well as finding new ways to stand together for justice. As I prepared for this weekend I was reminded by parishioners that St Paul parish taught their children, whether it was 30 years ago, or as recent as this year as members of our parish who had children graduate from St Paul School. With the help of Divine Word Missionaries, we were able to provide scholarships for children, and St Paul parishioners have been generous in supporting our resent Vacation Bible Camp and our mercy ministry through donations to our food pantry. During the pandemic the pastors met on discussions of mutual sharing on race and reflecting on the 2018 Bishop’s pastoral letter ”Open Wide our Hearts”. More recently members of St Paul worked with St Joseph in putting their Faith in Action to Stand Together (F.A.S.T). This coming together is bearing fruit as this week parishioners of St Paul will have their first house meeting as members commit themselves as justice leaders. So this is truly a coming together not simply to take up a collection, but to celebrate our common faith in action for justice! Can I get an Amen?
I begin my reflection from Friday’s evening prayer “…we might derive hope from the lessons of patience and the words of encouragement in the Scriptures. May God, the source of all patience and encouragement, enable you to live in perfect harmony with one another according to the spirit of Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and voice you may glorify God…” Acts
‘This weekend we are encouraged as together we are a people that seeks harmony and oneness of heart for us and those we serve. Watch out because God will anoint, appoint , and use those you would least expect to achieve His will.
In the readings today from both Numbers chapter 11 and Mark chapter 9 Jealousy over how God’s anointing for prophesy and healing are given to the least likely or those who seem not to deserve it. In both instances the acknowledgement of God’s generosity in giving forth His Spirit is lifted up and encouraged. Our God is generous in pouring out His Blessings and Spirit for greatness..
This is the first lesson for us today, be open and prepared for God to work well outside our boundaries and limitations. God does the impossible with the least likely, He does the undoable with the least able, and the unthinkable with the least obvious. God can and does far more than we can think or imagine. Oh, and guess what, He doesn’t seek nor need our approval to do it. Let God do great things through you.
The final take away for today is a call to justice. The letter from James might seem hard to hear and harder to accept. In the challenge to the wealthy it isn’t so much that they posses wealth, but rather in the failure to see that one is called to justice. That is when we encounter the poor, the naked, those on the peripheries not only are we called to provide for their needs, but also we are called to use wealth, influence and power, to eradicate the obstacles and causes of the disparity and poverty. Here we grow from Mercy ministry of feeding the homeless to Justice Ministry of providing Affordable housing. From giving a handout to giving a hand up. Both are needed! We must feed the hungry, and help the needy, while at the same time helping to provide structures to support them. Seeing in each human life value, from the unborn to the aged, from the immigrant to the refugee, from the stranger to our own children and those we encounter each day. Let’s strive to Use our Faith in Action, Standing Together for justice.,