Worship At Home
Small Group Reflection of 05-10-20
In these days of social distancing we have endeavored to provide a Corpus Christi online worship experience. The Worship At Home web page has been our attempt to provide that. One of the ways our community has used this resource has been to gather virtually in real time using video conferencing software like FaceTime, Skype, Messenger, and Zoom. In an effort to hold onto our deep liturgical roots, one virtual group has gone to the point of having rotating presiders, lectors, and even homilists. The reflections provided by the members of this group have often been very inspiring. In an effort to share these reflections with the larger community several of them have been collected and published here on the CC website.
Reflection from 05-10-20, provided by Vince DiGiorno
I learned recently that one of my Daily Work clients had died. He was about my age. He was a good person. He was kind, generous and liked to joke. He was also overwhelmed by frustration with bureaucracy, unreasonably impatient with people who didn’t do their job well and failed to deal with his own health problems. He died sometime in the last two weeks alone in his apartment. I could not save him. He was sitting in his chair watching TV when the apartment manager found him on Friday.
I wanted my client to feel respected and loved. I wanted him to have what he needed to live a dignified life. We helped him get a job, an apartment, and a van. He worked as a janitor. The government employment program he participated in allowed him to earn $9.86 per hour and work 20 hours per week. He also received Social Security disability payments. He lived in St. Paul Public Housing. His van was old and hard to keep running, but it was running and insured. He received food assistance and medical assistance from Ramsey County. The many programs and forms of charity kept him off the streets. But navigating the programs was complicated and frustrating, and he would have preferred a job that paid enough to be able to take care of himself.
You might conclude that he was lucky to have the things he had. Some people saw him and said, “He got what he deserved.” I am more certain than ever that everyone deserves what they need. I wanted my client to know God’s grace through our relationship. He was adamant that he did not know God or believe that there was a God. However, he accepted the grace and love that I offered. He became my friend and I will miss him. I pray that, “the Lord bless my friend and protect him. May the Lord smile on him and be gracious to him. May the Lord show him the Lord’s favor and give him peace.”
Even though my client had a lot of help, he struggled mightily to live a dignified life. Reflecting on what more I could have done personally and what more we should be doing as a community, the difference between charity and justice comes to mind. What God demands of us is justice not charity. When Jesus said, “The poor you will have with you always,” (Matthew 26:11) he was not suggesting that poverty is inevitable but rather insisting that poverty can and should be ended. This is God’s will.
Today’s first reading from Acts describes the calling of the first deacons. The early Church developed social institutions and Church offices to meet the material needs of some of the people of God. The early church, open to the work of the Spirit, moved to see that both the material and spiritual needs of the community were met. At the beginning of Acts it explains that, “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.” (Acts 2:42-44)
Rev Martin Luther King Jr said this about the need for justice: “A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”
Dr. King was assassinated, not when he was talking about a dream, but when he started meddling with the economic injustices of the nation to organize the Poor Peoples Campaign.
Jesus was betrayed and crucified because of his relationship to the poor and his stance that God’s kingdom should be here on earth. It is a place where debts are forgiven, mouths are fed, community is built.
St. Peter, in today’s second reading says, “Come to Him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house . . .” This is a clear and personal call to each of us. We are precious in God’s eyes and created to be built into a spiritual house that is strong, protective, and just.
Finally, in John’s gospel, Jesus said to his disciples, “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.”
We need to broaden radically the boundaries of our understanding of the church.
David Dark, who teaches at Belmont University in Nashville, identifies the Covid-19 pandemic as an apocalypse. When an apocalypse occurs, that which was once hidden is fully disclosed and we are suddenly made to see what is going on.
He concludes that, “The American economy, as it is currently arranged, is not an economy that [makes] it possible for everyone to access what they need to simply live, let alone thrive. . . . we see that the arrangement we have settled for and agreed to is not just. The way we in America have ordered our system of work, health care, housing and all the other fundamentals of human existence is in danger of collapsing in on itself.”
On Holy Thursday Mark Kristjanson pointed out that, “We have a unique opportunity right now to sit in this messiness, to be still, and to contemplate how we got here and how we can mobilize our yearning for the resurrection to come in Easter in order to move closer to realizing the justice of God’s vision for humanity.”
Today I implore all of you to take up this challenge with me. The challenge is to build a spiritual house that is strong, protective, and just. The challenge is to build God’s kingdom here on earth. The challenge is to use our God given abilities to do works even greater than those of Jesus. We must try harder, think bigger and fight with all our heart so that everyone can live the dignified life that my friend desperately sought.