First Reading: ROM 3:21-30
Responsorial Psalm:PS 130:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6AB
I was born into modest conditions in a small house nestled amongst many in one of Chicago’s near south suburbs, one of four children. Although our economic means were minimal, we were raised in a rich environment filled with Christian morals and values. My dad taught us to treat all people with dignity and respect through his many interactions as a salesman and the way he lived his life, a lesson that stands out to me today. My father was a soft-spoken man, a member of what is now known as “The Greatest Generation.” Like countless others that many of us have been blessed to know, his life was dramatically affected by the great challenges of the 20th century, especially as an injured veteran of WWII.
In today’s gospel Jesus solemnly proclaims “woe” to the Pharisees. Jesus clearly condemns the hypocrisy of the pharisees failing to practice as they preach. But the readings today also provide guidance for us: we too, poor sinners, must practice the teachings of Christ, even when we may be persecuted by our community for practicing our faith. “Therefore, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute’” (Luke 11:49).
When I was eight years old the Chicago Blizzard of 1967 struck, paralyzing the city and stranding large numbers of people across the frozen cityscape. That night my father surprised us with visitors, a young African American woman with a boy around my age, victims of the storm he had brought home from the nearby grocery store. It was a simple gesture. We shared a meal and an evening together, and the next day they found their way home.
The times of the blizzard were racially charged. To put in perspective the times, Martin Luther King was assassinated one year following this blizzard—A man that challenged the status quo, rightfully asking our nation to look in the mirror and ask if we were living up to the teachings proclaimed by Jesus in the Gospel. Being of Irish and mixed European descent, the act of kindness shown by my father might have been considered by many in our community as highly unusual and even provocative. Undaunted, Louis was not self-righteous in his words, but his action that day of the blizzard spoke very loudly to me. As shown in the Gospel, my father was living out his call to follow Jesus as an apostle and could’ve been persecuted by our community and neighbors for his act, but he showed love through his actions.
I have since lived my life striving to accept and treat all people as the child of God they are. I am not perfect on this score, but I am convinced it is the right path. How are you behaving today in ways that might cause Jesus to declare “woe”? What can you do, through His grace, to act in ways that speak loudly of His love?