Dont Forget Your Own…

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters… Peace be with you !

This mornings first reading is from Isaiah ( Isaiah 58:1 +).   This reading is particularly appropriate for this time as the beginning of the Lenten season.  The Lord shares with us his desires for what he would like to see us doing over the course of this time.   Even during the time of Isaiah, the Lord says.. OK.. you go on about your day fasting and praying and take time for the “DO-ING ” of the Lenten practices, BUT  at the same time making the lives of everyone around you perfectly miserable.    This is not what God wants from us.  We are not here to engage in religious practices externally without the changes or work that comes with them from within.

Instead the corporal works of mercy are the place to start  !   

Feed the Hungry, Shelter the homeless, visit those in jail, Visit and care for the sick, Give drink to the thirsty, and bury the dead.    These are all acts of kindness and mercy that should be part of our daily lives as we are able to serve.    In case you believe you have those covered there are more spiritual works of mercy that go hand in hand with those.

To teach the ignorant, counsel the doubting, admonish the sinner, bear wrongs patiently, to forgive offenses, comfort the afflicted and to pray for the living and the dead.    Its a big laundry list to work on.    Indeed an entire lifetime is spent working on these items just to see that we fail in one area, while working on another.   This is why we need the graces of God to give us strength while we learn.

There is a final component to this reading that struck me as interesting.  After the Lord said to take care of everyone else, he adds at the end of the list, a caveat.  ” and not turning your back on your own”.     

Those who belong to the laity, are called to be people living in the world, but not OF the world.   There is a certain level of responsibility that comes with being a lay person.   It is up to the laity to go out from our buildings and evangelize the world.  It is also up to the laity to care for their spouses, and children, and other family.   We need to provide for their care before we can provide for the rest of the world.     Much like building a house, there needs to be a solid foundation from which to build.   Without a solid foundation that house will eventually crumble and fall.  

When ever I came home and wanted to go out and do something that I thought was good and charitable and beneficial to man kind in general, my mother used to say things like ” Charity begins at home” and it was usually followed by something like ” go clean your room” or ” go take care of the lawn” or something equally as fun.

Eventually it dawned on me that there was always something to do at home that would prevent me from doing some charitable work ( which would be ultimately more fun or at least more noble).     It was not until later that it occurred to me that the point is not doing one or the other, but doing BOTH.     You need balance in all things.  Do the things necessary so that your own family is cared for,  but make the time to go out and perform those works for the benefit of our brothers and sisters who are in need.    Teaching our families this lesson is the greatest act of  love we can give them in order that they too will pass it on to their children and to others as they grow.

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