First, a quick note of thanks to all assisting us at IHM with our Angel Tree … providing gifts and clothing to needy children. We have had some 1,100 requests this year from various agencies in our area, so any help you can provide is much appreciated.
In that vein, if you’d ever like to aid IHM’s efforts to help the local poor (especially in the winter season when needs are more dire), you can always surf to our IHM Christian Concern Committee page to contribute; the most recent financial statement is there so you can see the assistances we provide. To aid us in determining reality of need, requests for assistance must be received from local social service agencies rather than from individuals. Donations help with food, medicine, doctor bills, utility payments, rent and other financial obligations for those who may be in a short term crisis or for those who are struggling with longer term issues.
While it’s stated on our website that preference goes to IHM parishioners, history of donations shows that a very small percentage of aid goes to such. The vast bulk of aid goes to help the poor in the Rio Grande Valley area.
Human compassion for the downtrodden and needy is one of the most beautiful of human emotions. We Christians at least try to keep before us Jesus’ admonition: “…you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:14). Such generosity is a hallmark of many religious faiths and ANY good moral person. Anyone with normal human feeling wonders how others can behold the truly destitute with hardened uncharitable heart.
And yet … we know such unconcern occurs. A lot. And thus the human need for an ideal toward which to strive, whether it be a person we admire and seek to emulate, or—much better—a firm principle incapable of being tainted by the ever-lurking shadow of weak human will.
An example: Yesterday morning was a gloriously beautiful morning—sun shining, windless, the air cool and bracing after a lovely (burp) Thanksgiving. Ahh … so let’s peruse the news. Being (obviously) of the religious bent, I’m drawn to religious articles.
Uh oh … what’s this? “Firefighters Find Illegal Gambling Room in Church”. Sigh. “Minister Embezzles Church Funds”. Crud-ola. “Priest Indicted for Child Sexual Abuse”. Aauugh! Not again!! The beauty of the morning vanishes. What is wrong with these PEOPLE!?!!
What is wrong is that they abandoned the ideal … if they ever had it in the first place and were not simply wolves in sheep’s clothing. They hardened their hearts against truth and the good … indeed, against normally-ubiquitous human feeling and compassion.
Is it any wonder, then, that the common man or woman—the non-believing AND those trying to be Christian faithful—can be so jaded. Such is the frustration of St. Paul when he wrote (adapted very slightly): “…if you call yourself a [believer] and rely upon the law and boast of your relation to God and know his will and approve what is excellent…and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness…will you not teach yourself?…You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? For, as it is written, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the [non-believing] because of you.’” (Romans 2:17-24)
We Catholics—and, sadly, others as well—have experienced this in spades, with the horror of the child molestation crisis by the most camouflaged of wolves: priests themselves … reminding us again of St. Paul: “…such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-14). Following his namesake, Pope Paul VI said even prior to the molestation revelations: “…the smoke of Satan entered the temple of God…There is doubt, uncertainty, problems, restlessness…[People] do not trust the Church anymore…” (Homily of 6/29/72).
Such is the carnage wrought by evil … the loss of the ideal … just as a bomb obliterates in a moment the building and work of centuries and even millennia. Faithful lost or disillusioned … ministries, churches and dioceses drained of resources as they attempt to heal the violated and make at least some minimal amends … the scorn of the public. A master stroke of villainy.
Yet, those who hold to the ideal nonetheless long to rebuild what others have destroyed … just as the Israelites returned to the Promised Land after their Babylonian exile to rebuild the Temple. This inexorable longing for good pervades the human spirit regardless of the assaults of infamy, for the human spirit, created IN goodness, ever longs FOR goodness. And the true Christian, undaunted and with jaw set, seeks the good knowing that evil may win the battle here and there, but also knowing that ultimate victory is inevitably Christ’s … He who is our—the ultimate—ideal.
To Jesus Christ do true Christian faithful pledge their inextinguishable allegiance—the allegiance to Good itself—even in trials recalling the prophet Habakkuk: “…though the fig tree blossom not, nor fruit be on the vines, though the yield of the olive fail and the terraces produce no nourishment, though the flocks disappear from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet will I rejoice in the Lord and exult in my saving God.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18) … our saving God and the unfailing ideal to which we ever look. Maranatha!! (1 Corinthians 16:22)