Sunday, June 28, 2009

How many Catholics heard today about charity "as a matter of equality?"

Today I didn't make it to morning Mass at my home parish, St. Alphonsus Liguori, so this afternoon I went to a nearby parish. The priest there had a pretty good homily, tying the Old Testament reading (Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24) and the Gospel reading (Mark 5:21-43 or 5:21-24, 35b-43) to a homily theme about humility.

While I'm all for humility, I was struck by the fact that he didn't talk instead about charity. He didn't say anything about today's reading from Paul's letters -- 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15 -- which says:
Brothers and sisters:

As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also.

For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. Not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality. As it is written:

Whoever had much did not have more,
and whoever had little did not have less.

With four readings to choose from, it isn't unusual for the Sunday homilist not to address one or more of the day's readings. But this priest's omission was striking because today is the Sunday when parishes were supposed to take the Peter's Pence Collection. That money goes directly to the Pope "to provide emergency assistance to those in need because of natural disaster, war, oppression, and disease."

Yet, during this particular Mass, in one of Indiana's most affluent parishes, not only did the priest say nothing said about charity, but he also made no mention of the Peter's Pence Collection.

Our Lord tells us not to judge others. Judging is one of the sins that's particularly hard for me to resist. So let me just say I was disappointed. I was disappointed that this one priest didn't take today's opportunity to encourage people who have an abundance to give part of it to the Holy Father so he could give it to people who have needs.

On the way home I began to wonder how many celebrations of the Mass in other affluent American parishes today also didn't mention Peter's Pence Collection. How many other homilists also chose not to remind their parishioners of what Paul said to the Corinthians, that they should excel in "this gracious act....that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs"?

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