Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, July 1, 2018. Mt 9:1-8

In today’s account of the healing of the paralytic, Jesus responds to the faith of the people by forgiving the man’s sins and then healing him of his paralysis. It is both their faith and action that bring Jesus’ response.

In our own lives we must accompany our faith by actions. In the letter of the Apostle James, he warns us that faith without good works is dead. In today’s reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, the apostle directs us to exercise the gifts that we have. Elsewhere he compares us to a living body that has many members, each with its own function for the health of the whole body and he teaches us that we are the Body of Christ – the Church. In today’s reading, he mentions a few of the gifts that he observed among the Roman Christians: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, financial contributions, diligent use of authority, cheerful acts of mercy. However, those gifts he lists are not the only gifts that God has given us. We all have gifts and we need to pray to recognize and use those gifts for building up our parish, our eparchy and the kingdom of God on this Earth.

As I consider each of you and the needs of our parish, I recognize many gifts that you can use to put your faith into action.

July 19 to 21 we are cooking and baking for the parish picnic on July 21. We are inviting folks throughout our communities to come to this picnic. Certainly there is the prospect of helping our parish financial situation; but, more importantly, it is a mild form of evangelization. Many of you, I know, have the ability to cook or bake or even provide support services for those who are doing the cooking and baking. Pans always need cleaning and floors need sweeping, tables need to be wiped down. No effort is unimportant.

For the picnic itself, there are the jobs of setting up, exercising hospitality to our guests, of cleaning up after the picnic. You can use your gifts in these ways. You could also volunteer to help Anne Dillon conduct the children’s games.

On October 14 we will have a Parish Family Retreat following the Sunday Liturgy. Here, too, you can give the gift of your time by helping to plan the retreat and by participating in this afternoon event. Sharing your gift of faith during this retreat is another way to respond to the Lord’s call. All of us need encouragement to stay strong in our faith. At the retreat we can do that for one another.

Whatever other talents or gifts we have all of us can pray. We have the parish prayer apostolate. Linda Skibo keeps the list of intentions up-to-date and prays for those intentions, but she isn’t the only one who should be praying for others. Everyone can and should.

Parents are also teachers of their children. Our elementary students are being taught their faith at home but the children need to see that faith lived out in the actions of all of our parishioners. This is the gift of setting a good example. That same gift should also extend to the adults around us – where we live, where we work, where we recreate. The small example of taking a moment to say grace before meals, even when you are out at a restaurant, is an important putting of faith into actions.

St. Paul mentions acts of mercy done with cheerfulness. Think of the people around you and how they can benefit from small acts of mercy – special consideration, done with cheerfulness. A kind word or small deed, even a smile, can go a long way to raising the spirits of another person. A greeting card, a visit or even a phone call to a home or hospital done with cheerfulness can be a great form of support for those who are ill or who are shut-ins.

Heed St. Paul’s admonition. Reflect on what your special gifts are. Maybe ask family members or friends, who may see gifts in you that you don’t see in yourself. When you know your gifts, put them into action to build up the Body of Christ. Perhaps the question at God’s judgment seat will not be, “How many sins did you commit?” but, “How well did you use the gifts God has given you?”


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