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What it really means to be “the least”

“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me”

Plentiful gifts of sustenance

A week ago Saturday, we had almost 100 families come to the parish hall to pick up their Thanksgiving baskets through the Pope Francis Outreach Center. Last week, a few more hundred families came to pick up theirs. God is so good to provide so abundantly through the generosity of our donors, staff, and volunteers! He truly gives us a chance to live out the corporal works of mercy spelled out in today’s Gospel – “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink”. And, given that it’s in celebration of Thanksgiving, I hope that all of our families gave thanks to God for his gracious and plentiful gifts of sustenance.

Sometimes we need help

On their side of this, none of the families would enjoy being considered the “least of my brothers (and sisters).” In our pride, none of us want to be in the category of poor or needy. We want to be among those who are strong and self-sufficient. But, sometimes life brings us to our knees, and we need help. This happens to all of us at one time or another. How many of the “powerful” in our country are being brought to their knees vis-à-vis scandal? When we are in serious need – like putting food on the Thanksgiving table – pride takes a back seat to humility. In a spiritual sense and brought home by today’s readings, humility is good. It’s actually replete in the Gospel that humility is necessary for God and goodness to work in us.

The King of Kings

The amazing thing about today’s Gospel passage is that the Lord equates the poor and needy with Himself. He tells a parable about a king, and the king identifies himself as hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, ill, and imprisoned. Wait, how can a king live this way? He is supposed to be strong, powerful, and in total control. Only one king has ever lived this way fully, and He is the greatest King ever. Christ is the King of kings! A true king is a shepherd, a point that was driven home well by the Old Testament prophets like Ezekiel. The true king says, “The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal”. Christ did all of these and more – He lived as they lived.

Union with Christ the King

So, for those who might be upset at first to be called “the least”, this Gospel and feast of Christ the King shows that they are in good company. They are in the best company! They are in the company of and union with Christ the King. Whenever we wait in line for the spiritual nourishment of the Mass, sacraments, Adoration, Bible study, etc., we are spiritually putting ourselves in the category of the needy. This is much better than being among the “sleek and the strong” to whom the Lord says “I will destroy”. We are spiritually among the least of the Lord’s brethren, and are in union with the King of the Universe.

May you know the peace of Christ the King,

Fr Greg

God is never outdone in generosity

4th Sunday

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Gospel / family
Jeremiah

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“God is never outdone in generosity”

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TEST Volunteers and staff of the Pope Francis Outreach Center in Southeast Washington say they hope the upcoming visit to Washington of its namesake will help the faithful better know and love the poor.

“Pope Francis said that the poor are not to be pitied because Jesus is present among them. In their suffering, they know Christ in a special way,” said Ryan Hehman, director of Assumption Parish’s Pope Francis Outreach Center. “We hope our efforts reach out to those who hurt the most and are in need the most, especially those in need not just of material help, but of love and friendship.”

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