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The Joy ahead...

Dec 10

Written by:
12/10/2017 12:00 AM  RssIcon

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to join with the many volunteers who make the Thanksgiving Day Meal Drive at the Pastoral Area Food Pantry a wonderful success. While I probably caused more harm than actual help, it was great fun to join these volunteers in ministering to our neighbors in need. And I drove home with a full and happy heart, ready to celebrate the joy of the upcoming Christmas Season.

But as I drove away, my brain started kicking in to gear once again. I realized how lucky I am to be born into the family that I have and into the situation that I was raised in. While no family is ‘normal,’ my own situation was about as close to it as one could get. And so many of the families who came to receive the gift of a meal for Thanksgiving most likely longed for that normalcy.

Because once you get caught into the cycle of poverty, your life becomes anything but normal. It is hard to think of the larger issues in life when you are never sure where your next meal is coming, or if there is even going to be a next meal. And while there are so many social service agencies that do assist those who are in need, it can be so dehumanizing to be pushed from one agency to the next, to have to fill out form after form, while answering the same questions time and time again.

As a Church, we have an onus and responsibility to speak into the things of this world that dehumanize our brothers and sisters.

And the experience of helping with the Thanksgiving Day Food Drive opened my eyes to how the leaders and volunteers of the Food Pantry speak to that very thing with every client that came in. Each family was treated with love and respect, greeted along the way as they made their way through the line. Volunteers opened doors, chatted with them, asked about other family members, etc. Eventually, youth and adult volunteers even carried the dinner supplies from the basement of the Parish Center to the clients’ cars; often to great protest to those receiving the meals!

The whole experience brought to light the three parables of judgement from Matthew, specifically the last parable of the sheep and the goats: ‘when you did this for the least of my people, you did it for me.’ We did not do this because the people being served were Catholic, we did this because WE are Catholic!

This weekend, much the same will happen again as an army of staff and volunteers will greet many of the same families as were met just prior to Thanksgiving as they come to receive gifts and meals provided by parishioners from the three parishes of our Pastoral Area. Once again, they will be greeted as if they were Christ, for that is how we are called to see them. Once again, I will go away in awe at the generosity and love shown by our parishes and our volunteers.

And I think, this is what makes our parishes a truly unique and wonderful place.

To all those who gave so generously to make these events happen, I am truly thankful and I know that Jesus looks down and smiles at the good work done in His name.

God bless
Fr. Kyle Schnippel

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