Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time  

Dear Friends and Parishioners of Saint Jerome,

Pax Christi semper vobiscum!

I mentioned during my homily last weekend the call of the Gospel to be considerate of those who live in the peripheries of society and to care for them. The exhortation of Jesus to offer a banquet for the poor is a challenging one. Did the Word make an impact at all on our parish in general? Our homeless neighbors continue to wander around. They normally sit by the gutter in front of the rectory building in their dirty clothes oftentimes drunk. Most of us are accustomed to see them in their usual appearance. They enter into the church from time to time. We meet them. We encounter them. But for whatever reason, we seldom acknowledge them. In fact, we often ignore them.

Surely, they leave their trash in front of the church. It is difficult to keep them committed to picking up their trash. It is challenging to always remind them to not urinate by the corners of our buildings nor leave their carton beds on the ground. In fact, it is easier to just despise them and to call the cops on them because they make our surroundings dirty. Yet, do we respond properly to the Gospel exhortation when we set a certain standard according to what is convenient and less troublesome? If we truly believe on what we pray at each Sunday Mass, then we should be doing something to journey with the members of our community who are less significant to many. We need to care for them.

We cannot resolve all the issues and the problematic social situations. But we can at least contribute to alleviate the awful situation of our brothers and sisters in our midst who are finding it difficult to leave the oppressive power of vice, addiction, depression, and other social maladies that can afflict the existence of many. At least, let us feed them. Maybe not every day, but once a week. Can we commit to care for those who are less fortunate than us?

Can we share our blessings in the form of time by dedicating a work of mercy for those who are in need? I mentioned that at some point the Wednesday Hot Lunch Program would no longer continue due to logistics and organizational feasibility. Instead, we would offer a hot meal during dinner time each Friday of the week beginning on September 30th, on the Feast of Saint Jerome. I am waiting for families and individuals to come forward and be initiators of this work of mercy. I understand that we are all busy with something either at work, school or just in our family. Would it change our perspective if we begin to convince ourselves that those who would come to us to be fed, such as the homeless and the wanderers, are the “Jesus in our midst?” Jesus is not only Breaking the Bread for us on the Altar when we gather for worship. He is also someone who asks to be fed, to be given a warm and decent bed to sleep in, to be given warm clothing during wintertime and to be cared for and acknowledge by us in our daily interactions. The authenticity of our communal prayers is verified when the words that we proclaim convert into service. Who is willing to come forward to serve the “Jesus in our midst”? Please call me.

Sincerely in Christ and Mary,