Firstly, after two weeks of Deacon Lucio preaching, someone said to me, “Hey Father, he’s doing all the work!” To which I said, “Whoa, hang on there. He was here for all of June and I did all the preaching.” But he has done a great job, hasn’t he? Don’t forget to thank his teacher.
Secondly, I’ve been meaning to say it for a while, something that’s been on my heart: I love you. I haven’t said it for a while and a priest should say it. After all, Stevie Wonder has that song I Just Called to Say I Love You. So if it’s good enough for Stevie, it’s good enough for me.
Who agrees with the following statement (don’t say it out loud): “We need to worry about our own country and let the rest of the world take care of itself.” Last March, Angus Reid did a poll on religion in Canada, and this was one of their questions. 46% of Canadians agreed we need to worry about Canada and let the rest of the world take care of itself; the rest disagreed. What struck me was that Catholics were the only ones who had a majority agreeing with this statement: 51% of Catholics agreed. Every other religion, Protestant, Evangelical, even non-Christians, even non-religious people had a majority of people disagreeing with this.
Now I admit that the statement isn’t entirely clear: does it mean we need to worry about our own country first and then help others? Or does it mean we just take care of ourselves and ‘Who cares’ about the rest of the world?
So let’s simplify it. Do you agree with this statement: “We need to worry about our own family and let other families take care of themselves”? Doesn’t sound right, does it? Let’s make it even simpler: “I need to worry about myself and let other people take care of themselves.” Do you agree with that? That isn’t Christian.
The second reading talks about how Jesus “has made both Jews and Gentiles into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us” (Eph 2:14). The ‘dividing wall’ refers to the Temple in Jerusalem where a wall separated Jews and Gentiles, with Gentiles being forbidden to enter the inner court. If they entered, they would be executed. But now Christ has reconciled the nations with one another and we’re all one (The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament).
It’s a blessing that we have this reading today, because we have a special guest speaker, Sr. Mary Margaret Ajiko from Uganda. Archbishop Miller has allowed her to speak about her ministry and request our help in supporting it. Instead of me boring you any longer, His Grace has asked her to speak now. So enjoy it while it lasts!
One last thought before Sister speaks: it seems to me that a better statement than the one we started with would be: “We need to worry about our own country first, and then help the rest of the world.” We can’t help our friends while neglecting our own family—that wouldn’t be genuine love. Genuine love starts with the people God has put in our lives, that is, our own family and friends, and then it extends to everyone else. Today God has put Sister into our lives, so let’s have our love extend to her.
Sister, we’re happy to have you here and happy to help you! Welcome!