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As our deacon read the Gospel this morning at mass I couldn’t help but smile and look up to the crucifix hanging above the altar. I nodded to Jesus and uttered, “Thank you, Lord.” The Gospel reading for the day was Luke 10:25-37 which contained Jesus’ response to the scholar of the law about the Greatest Commandment:

27”You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

and the Parable of the Good Samaritan:

30Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. (A priest and a Levite passed him by and offered no help)…. 33But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. 34He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he…. took him to an inn and cared for him…..36[Jesus asked], Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robber’s victim?” 37He [the scholar] answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Our priest gave his homily and spoke of the recent violence in Dallas, Texas. He referred to this passage from Luke and reminded us that all lives matter, that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, that we are all neighbors and, in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we all deserve mercy. Once again, I looked to the Lord, smiled and said, “Thank you!”

The hymn sung during the presentation of the gifts was one of my favorites, Christ, Be Our Light! As I sung the following words to verse two I closed my eyes and whispered, “Thank you, again, Lord! I’m getting the message!”:

“Longing for peace, our world is troubled. Longing for hope, many despair. Your word alone has power to save us, Make us your living voice. (Chorus) Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts, shine through the darkness. Christ, be our light! Shine in Your Church gathered today.”

These three, the gospel, homily and hymn were the perfect prelude for the next four days. Today through next Wednesday ten of us from our parish, five adults and five youths, will be serving our neighbors in need in one of the poorest areas of our country, Appalachian Eastern Kentucky.

This is my third year in a row to work with Hand in Hand Ministries at their Auxier Center in Floyd County, Kentucky, and the second time to chaperone a youth group. HHM is an excellent organization serving the needs of the community by coordinating and managing projects so that volunteers like us can work to improve the living conditions of those most in need.

But, the physical work we do is secondary to the real mission: to build up individuals and families whose spirit may have been broken as a result of their poverty; to build relationships with them which, by hearing their voice, will ease their loneliness; and by giving them hope by being Christ’s hands and feet to them. It’s a beautiful thing.

As our priest blessed the ten of us after mass, I thought of our five charges and prayed, “Lord Jesus, give us the Grace to lead these kids with understanding, let us demonstrate Your mercy by being merciful, and, as we are trying to be Your hands and feet to those whom we serve, give us the Grace to see You in them. Amen.”

(Christ, Be Our Light! was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2016 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

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