Children of Uganda

In 13 Today's Church on 2015/11/29 at 12:00 AM
  • On one of the last days of our recent mission trip to Uganda, one of the Missionary of the Poor brothers invited us to visit a boarding school in one of the neighborhoods not too far from the monastery.
  • The school we visited is called “Blessed Primary School.” The principal explained to me that they gave the school this name because they want their students to understand how blessed they are, even though they seemingly have so very little.
  • Keep in mind that this is a very poor school. The windows have no glass, there are no doors, the buildings themselves are crumbling, there is no insulation, the desks are falling apart, and there were very few school supplies, and certainly no computer.
  • Most of the children who attend Blessed Primary School are from other places, and they live at the school – sleeping on mats on the classroom floors at night.
  • But nevertheless the children are happy and joyful. They sang and danced for us, and they warmly welcomed us. Even though Blessed Primary School is not religiously affiliated in any way, faith in our loving God pervades the place.
  • These children know that God provides for all their needs. They know that they are blessed to have a roof over their heads (although it may be a leaky roof), to have clothing on their backs (though perhaps a bit tattered and torn), food on their plates (though probably not enough), and an opportunity for education.
  • It’s this joy that is found amongst the poor – a joy rooted in an absolute trust in God’s goodness – that draws me to visit the developing world on our parish mission trips.
  • Quite frankly, being with them and taking in their satisfaction with God’s provision is a refreshing change from our American way of life that pushes us to acquire and consume the goods of this world, and to experience newer and finer forms of luxury.
  • God’s provision for us is the theme of our readings today. All of our readings today remind us of God’s loving provision for all our needs and how His love is always available to us.
  • In our Gospel we hear the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, a beautiful story of God’s love and provision; and in the Responsorial Psalm today we sing: “The hand of the Lord feeds us; He answers all our needs.” Yet how many of us believe this?
  • The sad truth for many in our society is that in our ever‐burning desire for more of this world’s goods, we often do not recognize the many ways that God does provide for us because we’re too focused on what it is we don’t have.
  • Many in our society labor under the mistaken notion that not only do we deserve what we have, but that we actually deserve more because we work so hard. We forget very quickly that even our skills and talents and intelligence are really gifts from God.
  • In truth, my brothers and sisters, there is not one thing we possess, whether it be a material good or a particular talent or skill, that God did not give us. And this is a truth of which we must constantly remind ourselves, lest we grow proud and arrogant.
  • It is here that the poor can be a great help to us, for they are powerful reminders of the blessings we have, and serving them provides an opportunity to focus on someone other than ourselves. This is important, for selfishness is a killer spiritually speaking.
  • St. Paul asks us today what will separate us from the love of God, making the point that God’s love is always available to us. But we also know that God will never force Himself upon us. Thus, the only thing that can truly separate us from God’s love is selfishness.
  • When we selfishly focus our attention on ourselves, we not only lose sight of others, but we also lose sight of God and His love for us.
  • But learning to be poor in spirit, as the Beatitudes encourage, enables us to cultivate the necessary detachment from worldly things so that we can be fully attached to God!
  • Cultivating spiritual poverty within ourselves also helps us to become more grateful to God for everything that we have.
  • The poor also raise another question for us that is important to address: If we believe that God provides for all of our needs, then why does God allow some people to starve to death, or to go without adequate housing, clothing, or medical treatment?
  • If God is truly all‐powerful and all‐loving, why does He allow such suffering to go on in our world?
  • This is a complicated question with a multi‐faceted answer, but suffice it to say that God does provide for the needs of all people, for in truth there is only one need: salvation. And this He gives freely to all of us.
  • Think of our Lord’s response to Martha when she asked Him to rebuke Mary for not helping her: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. 􏰀There is need of only one thing.” That “one thing” is our eternal salvation.
  • My brothers and sisters, suffering is a mystery. Even if we were to eliminate poverty in this world such that everyone had enough to eat, there would still be suffering in the world. This is because in our Lord’s plan for salvation, suffering is necessary.
  • Indeed, our salvation was won for us through the sufferings of Jesus Christ. In imitation of Christ’s love, we are called to help relieve the sufferings of others as we are able.
  • The sufferings of others provide us the opportunities we need to grow in virtue, and that’s why as Christians we are encouraged to perform corporal works of mercy.
  • But we are also called to imitate Christ in His sufferings so that we may be conformed more and more to His image. That is why God the Father allows suffering to come into our lives.
  • God the Father is not an angry God who vindictively punishes us for our transgressions with various sufferings. Rather, He allows suffering to enter our lives as a means of drawing us closer to Him.
  • When we accept our sufferings in life with patience and faith, when we willingly pick up our crosses – whatever they may be – and try to follow Christ, it is then that we become like Christ.
  • My brothers and sisters, the Lord truly answers all our needs in this life, for in truth there is only one need: eternal salvation.
  • Let us all gives thanks today for both our blessings and our sufferings, for indeed both blessings and sufferings are necessary to help us along the narrow and rocky path to salvation.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
To enable the audio, please go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

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