Encountering the Divine: Reflections on the Sunday Gospel Luke 24:35-48 by Father Steven LaBaire

father steven labaireI am pleased to present this guest post from Father Steven LaBaire, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Worcester, MA.

In preparation for mass this Sunday:

Sunday’s gospel (Luke 24:35-48) recounts an appearance of Christ to the disciples after the resurrection. Over the years, many people have wondered and asked, what exactly were these “appearances” like? What actually happened?

Whatever did happen, the experiences transformed a group of frightened individuals, broken apart and scattered by the death of their friend, into a vibrant faith-filled community; a community unafraid to face opposition and adversity.

Moreover, this “community” began getting a reputation for treating the most vulnerable members of society (widows, orphans, the sick, slaves, children and the unborn) with a dignity and compassion unheard of in Roman society at the time. (Yeah, people who fell into any of those six categories were especially vulnerable during the First century: Little or no protection and not much recourse to care.)

Ronn aka "Blue" Aldaman The Living Dead I. - Bangkok, city of angels, Flickr Creative Commons
Ronn aka “Blue” Aldaman The Living Dead I. – Bangkok, city of angels, Flickr Creative Commons

That got me thinking about the mission of the Church: To be unafraid to go out and care for all the categories of human beings that are vulnerable, prey to exploitation and labeled as ‘unimportant’ by society, the government or whatever the politically correct social mores and politics “du jour” might be. When this happens, inspired by the Spirit of Christ, the mission of the Church is fulfilled.

Ed Yourdon Helping the homeless, Flickr Creative Commons
Ed Yourdon Helping the homeless, Flickr Creative Commons

I love it when I see everyday folks caring for humans that would otherwise be voiceless or don’t get much consideration when state or federal budgets get drawn up; or certain groups that get ignored because the media doesn’t consider it “newsworthy.”  (Think of all the news hype and talk and chatter surrounding the former New England Patriot’s Aaron Hernandez murder trial. Now think of this: 3 women die every day in the U.S because of domestic violence. How much news coverage does that ever get?)

I guess I’m lucky (really, blessed!) to have spent 27 years of my life crossing paths on a daily basis with people who actually care for the humans who don’t always get cared for. For me, this is one of the most profoundly enriching of working in the Church. And, like anything else the experience is surprising: You sometimes find it in the Church where you don’t expect to; you find it lacking where you would have expected to find more of it…

I hope that everyone can cross similar paths with people, whatever your calling or vocation in life. Such experiences of bold compassion are life-giving. They can completely change your outlook on life and your vision of the world.

Having witnessed them, something of the “Divine” appeared and made its presence felt.

Copyright 2015 Steven Michael LaBaire

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