By Fr. Brendan Duggan
Yesterday we had the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Our readings zone in on the difference between paying lip service or service of the heart to the message of Christ. In the Old Testament reading Moses urges the people to be faithful in their lives to God's law. This is not a burden to be endured but a source of life and wisdom. James in the second reading is very direct. It is not enough to listen to the word of God. We must put it into practice. He gives some concrete examples: "Care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” In other words: Actions speak louder than words. In the Gospel we see a clash between Christ and the Pharisees. Christ tells them they have substituted their own law for the law of God, with the result that their worship of God has become mere outward lip-service.
Religion is a life choice which is both an intellectual assent but also an affair of the heart. We are all human and having the heart involved in our choices is essential. Love is both an intellectual and a sensual assent. When I forgive someone, it must come from the heart. If it is not from the heart it will not set the offender free. When I welcome someone to my house with kind words, unless I make room for him/her in my heart he/she is still a stranger to me. This is one of the great problems with modern society. Nowadays we make such use of telephones, Facebook, Twitter or the Internet, to make "friends" who are anonymous, and who we may never meet. Our society has become a very lonely anonymous society as a result. Human interaction and love is so important for us. Being actually present at a show or concert with a large cheering good humored audience cannot be compared to watching the same show on television or listening to it on radio or CD. The Pharisees at the time of Christ often substituted public ritual for religion. Jesus often pointed out to them the importance of observing the law of God by generous deeds done from the heart. So being religious and a good Christian means that I deal in a fully human way with my neighbour. As we are told in other places, the Christian is a person who treats other people as he/she would like to be treated themselves when they fail. Christians are 'honest to god' people who try to act to others in a human way, despite all their frailties. When I fail I ask God for forgiveness, and then I start the battle again.
Three years ago I was at a special end of season Game Bird/Fishing party for sportsmen from Clare and Galway, held at a local hostelry in Shanaglish, near Gort in Co. Galway. On the wall was a copy of the famous photograph of twelve Irish construction workers perched 69 floors up on a steel girder during the construction of the Rockefeller Center in NYC. The unconcerned demeanor of the twelve men despite the obvious danger makes this an iconic photograph of the early 20th century. The bar owner in Shanaglish told me that two of the 12 men came from the local area: Matty O'Shaugnessy and Patrick 'Sonny' Glynn. Both left in the late twenties for the USA. According to a family member the two who were brothers-in-law just walked off the farm to make their fortune in America. The famous picture shows Matty (aged 31, getting a light for his cigarette), while Sonny on the far right (28) is shown holding a bottle. Sonny settled for life in the States while Matty returned to Galway in 1935, where he raised a large family. In early July a reconstruction of the famous photo was made and photographed in Eyre Square, Galway.
I would like to tell you a little about the upcoming Holy Ghost Fathers Annual Fundraiser Dance for the Missions which will take place at St. Mary's Hall, Woodside in Queens on Sat. November 10th. This is our major annual fundraiser which is a big money spinner for so many needy missions in Africa and Latin America. We have music to "RUMOR HAS IT " plus a hot buffet and refreshments of beer/wine/sodas and all for $45 per ticket. This is great value in these harsh times and a great night out is guaranteed to all. Presently we are organizing our annual Dance Journal for which ads are very welcome. We also have raffle tickets available for great prizes. For more information please contact me at 917 226 8237 0r on email at [email protected].
The Missions Dance over the past few decades has given lots of help and support to many needy missions. One of the areas of concern is our works in Haiti, where we have ministered since 1856. We have a school there which was the best school in Haiti with 2500 students. The earthquake almost wiped it out and we are trying to rebuild it. Housing for the people is so important but schools are also essential so I am hoping if we can generate some extra funds from the Dance in November we may be able to give some support and build some classrooms for St. Marcial School in Port-au- Prince. Poor Haiti suffers so much and Hurricane Isaac hasn't helped either.
Besides Haiti, we are also asked daily for help in many other areas of the world. Recently we have begun a new Mission to Darfur in Southern Sudan. The proceeds from the JC Fogarty, Bronxville Golf Tournament held last June has been a great help in getting this new Project off the ground. So to all our benefactors, and Missions supporters sincere thanks and God bless you all.