In today’s Gospel Jesus says to his disciples—and therefore to us—“You are the salt of the earth” and “You are the light of the world.” These metaphors are a call to action. We are to make a difference in our world for the better. We cannot just blend in—if so, we are like salt gone flat. The prophecy of Isaiah in our First Reading shows us the sort of light we are to be: “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; Clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own.” We are blessed to have many parishioners who share their bread with the hungry thorough Agnes Table and the St. Francesca Resource Center; who shelter the homeless by volunteering at Sojourner House or Habitat for Humanity; who make or donate coats, mittens, quilts, clothes and soap to the needy. Supporting Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services enables us all to extend our influence on a large scale.
This weekend we are taking up a second collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). CCHD was founded by the bishops of the United States to end the cycle of poverty in the United States by funding organizations that help people help themselves. With the tradition of improving education, housing situations and economic development, CCHD continues to make a positive impact in communities nationwide. Your contribution will defend human dignity and help those living on the margins of our society. Twenty-five percent (25%) of the collection stays in the Diocese of La Crosse for local grants.
This coming Tuesday, February 11, is the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes and the 28th annual World Day of the Sick. Mass will be celebrated at St. Charles at 11:00 that morning, during which the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick will be administered. A lunch will follow. Anyone with a serious or chronic illness may be anointed. I hope that family members or neighbors will make an effort to bring to church any homebound parishioners who are able to come, but cannot usually get to Mass. Those who will receive the sacrament will receive a sticker to identify them as candidates for anointing. Healthcare workers or other care givers are welcome to come, and they will receive a blessing at the end of the Mass.
Pope Francis has chosen Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28 as this year’s theme: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” In his message for this year’s observance, he addresses the sick:
Dear brothers and sisters who are ill, your sickness makes you in a particular way one of those “who labor and are burdened,” and thus attract the eyes and heart of Jesus. In him, you will find light to brighten your darkest moments and hope to soothe your distress. He urges you: “Come to me.” In him, you will find strength to face all the worries and questions that assail you during this “dark night” of body and soul. Christ did not give us prescriptions, but through his passion, death and resurrection he frees us from the grip of evil.
He also addresses healthcare professionals:
Dear healthcare professionals, let us always remember that diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic treatments, research, care and rehabilitation are always in the service of the sick person; indeed the noun “person” takes priority over the adjective “sick.” In your work, may you always strive to promote the dignity and life of each person, and reject any compromise in the direction of euthanasia, assisted suicide or suppression of life, even in the case of terminal illness.
You may find the full text of the Holy Father’s message on the Vatican website <w2.vatican.va> under “Messages.”
Pray the Rosary this week for people who are seriously ill and all who care for them. Pray for all participating in our Alpha series. As always pray for peace and the safety of military personnel serving abroad.
May God bless his people with peace.