33rd Sunday Ordinary
First, a comment on St. Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians; Paul certainly leaves no doubt that work is noble and a necessary part of life and that all who are able should work, instead of sitting around ideally an gossiping.
We hear this mantra from certain corners of our government that believe the poor sit around and don’t care to work; it is easier to be on the government handouts and food stamps than to work. As a missionary priest, I worked among some of our poorest inner city Black communities in Chicago, St. Louis, and Mississippi in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I found out first hand by visiting our parishioners in their run down shacks and high rise apartment tenaments how the poor really have to live.
What I learned was that most, not 100%, but most were not lazy, they didn’t enjoy being on food stamps and government assistance; they looked for work, often taking 2 – 3 short term, short hours of labor just to try and make ends meet.
For a while when I was around 6 – 7 years old growing up in Montana, my dad fell off the skaffling he was working on and broke his leg so badly that he was not able to work for nearly two years. We had no choice; we needed the government for help. And we needed our church parish community to help us out. My dad was a very proud man and worked hard all his life to provide for his family to the best of his ability. We grew up poor, receiving hand me down clothing and St. Vincent de Paul shoes or other things we needed – notice, I said NEEDED – not desired.
Far too often we rush to judgment about people, knowing nothing about them or their particular circumstances. Before we judge harshly and wrongly, better for us to assume the best in the person and give them a helping hand up. Most people just want a fare wage for a fare days labor as the scriptures tell us.
Which we know is not what is happening today in the USA; where the minimal wage of $7.60 an hour alone does not keep a roof over people’s heads and food in their bellies, as my dad use to say. To say nothing about any health care and thus, need to be totally dependent upon the local, state, and federal government to cover heath care costs. We all know how costly emergency room care is and the residual costs in insurance premiums for those who do have health care whose costs are constantly going up.
Our 1st reading from the Book of the Prophet Malachi, is the last book of the Hebrew Testament, the prophet is warning the people to remain faithful to their covenant with God that they have had for several thousand years. If not, the justice the will receive will be an everlasting punishment. As for those who devote their lives to serving the Lord, they will receive their new life in the eternal light of being in God’s presence face to face.
Judging others is not our role, a person’s final judgment is God’s; perhaps it will not go well for the lazy but neither will it for those who judge others instead of lending the poor a helping hand and getting actively involved in changing the unjust systems of government and corporate greed that keeps the poor stuck in an endless circle of poverty and dependency. This is what our Holy Father; Pope Francis is referring to again and again as the “globalization of indifference.” We have become so blind to the poor all around us that we don’t care to even get involved in helping them anymore.
Or are we, let prove to Pope Francis that we are actively involved in our faith in action; and do something, get involved in some concrete way that will help alleviate the plight of the poor. AMEN.