Sunday, October 30, 2022

SERVANT MINISTRY

Introductory note: I wanted to share two events that happened in the past few days. After I finished, I realized that they have to do with trying to be a servant, being images of Christ the Servant to the world. 
 Friday we had another training for Delegates of the Word, those who lead Sunday Celebrations in the absence of a priest so that people can come together and worship. There were about ninety participants. 

During the first part of the morning Padre German led the group in the retreat in the training manual for delegates. 

After a break, I went aside with about eighteen women and men aspiring to become delegates. I am very encouraged that almost all are young. We need new blood in this important ministry. 

Padre German asked me to work with them on basic church teaching and to start with examining them. Being a rebel, I decided to do the exam differently. They divided into groups. I asked a question which they were supposed to answer in the group and then we’d discuss it. This broke down when people began to just shout out a response and then we discussed the response.

But Padre German had the more difficult task with the delegates, some of whom have served for more than twenty-five years. 

 About a week ago the shared with me a concern about our annual celebration of Christ the King.

The tradition here is to get the whole parish together for Mass, often preceded by music and presentations, at times with a procession. The feast of Christ the King is also the day to honor the Delegates of the Word.

Father was concerned that we give an image of Christ as a king, who lords it over others, dominates, has the last word, and is the supreme leader.

I too share this concern. When I discuss our baptism into Christ - Prophet, Priest, and King, I almost always say King/Servant. 

A problem is that emphasizing this image  of a worldly king on the Day of the Delegate of the Word may give the message that the delegate is to be the one who makes the decisions. I have even heard of a delegate who said something to the effect that the pastor rules in the parish, but he’s there; I rule here. 

And some think clericalism is just something that has to do with priests. Clericalism runs deep in a patriarchal society and the notion of a privileged caste in the institutional church.

Don’t get me started. But, if you want to read more, I highly recommend Clericalism: The Death of Priesthood, by George B. Wilson, S.J.

Anyway, Padre German spent time trying to elicit from the delegates another way of looking at Christ the King – gentle, suffering, servant, humble.

We’ll be trying to emphasize these images for the feast. 


Today, Sunday, I was supposed to pick up a group of people from Ames, Iowa, connected with the group importing coffee from an association in our parish. They are also connected with our sister parish, Saint Thomas Aquinas in Ames. 

 I was late leaving home for the airport (three and a half hours away) when I got a WhatsApp message that they had only twenty minutes to get to their second flight because of delays due to fog.

A few minutes later, there was another message – they had to rebook their flight.

So, I stayed in Plan Grande.

Tomorrow I’ll pick them up and be with them until next Sunday. 

In the meantime, this morning, the pastor had called me to ask if I could assist at a funeral this afternoon.

I finally tracked down the people concerned and went for the two o’clock funeral.

I wasn’t as prepared as I usually want to be. I almost forget the books and my vestments and when I arrived there I realized I had only green vestments – for hope, as I explained to the people gathered at the family home. 

 The house was poor and up a path where only motorcycles could enter.

The woman who died, whose husband had died two years ago, was in her seventies. They had twelve children, only two of them women. Most were there, together with lots of kids and friends. 

I was moved by the presence of kids around the table we used for an altar, just outside the tiny room where the coffin was. They were attentive as I put on my vestments, as I explained to them a little of what they meant. 

The Celebration went well, and God provided me with what seemed like the right words. People seemed attentive. 

I was also surprised and grateful that so many came forward for communion. 

At the end of the celebration, I asked the adult children to come into the house for the final rites of sending – saying goodbye. La despedida. 

Then they carried the coffin to a pick up to begin the procession to the cemetery.
What a privilege to be able to share with these people, to offer them a few words which I hope will give them courage and consolation. This gives me joy. 

Just a last note. People usually give the priest who comes for a Mass a donation to cover fuel. They ask me and I try to decline. But today one of the sons insisted on handing me a two hundred lempira note, which, I told him, I will put into the parish solidarity fund for the poor. He insisted. How can I refuse?

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Worker priests, deacons, and the Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus

Today is the anniversary of the death of Pere Henri Perrin, the worker priest, born in 1914, who died on October 25, 1954.
The worker-priest movement arose to respond to what many in France and other parts of Western Europe saw as the failure of the Church to reach the working class. Priests left the rectories and worked in factories and other industries.

The priest-worker movement was especially strong in France, responding to the sense that France was not really “Christian,” and that the Gospel seemed irrelevant to the concerns of the working class. The movement was suppressed by the Vatican, partly because the priests got involved in all aspects of their work, including unions. Since many of the unions were dominated by the Communist Party, their involvement in the unions, even elected as union officials, was a “red” flag, literally and figuratively. 

I believe that the Vatican’s decision was sort-sighted and blinded by the virulent anti-Communism of the 1950s (and beyond.)

Though the movement was officially ended, the immersion of priests as well as women religious and lay missionaries, in the daily lives of the poor, living among them, has continued to nurture the real missionary dimension of faith, especially in parts of Latin America. 

About the same time, faithful in the German Church were pushing for the diaconate as a permanent state.  

There had been discussions since the nineteenth century, but one of the most profound discussions happened in the priests' barracks in the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau.

The priests there pondered the tragedy, the scandal, of a church that had not been ready to respond to Hitler. They wondered if the institutional church needed the input of people who were involved in the daily life of the people, in the offices, streets, and factories. 

The notes of one of the imprisoned priests, Father Wilhelm Schamoni, are pointed:
3. The preaching of these deacons, who would be involved in the work-a-day world, would be particularly persuasive and down-to-earth. One perceives in current preaching that it is being done by individuals who are “segregate a populo” [“separated from the people”]. 
4. The Church has largely become a Church of authorities and officials. The feudal state and the civil servant state have rubbed off on her. The diaconate would be an effective means to return Holy Mother the Church to a Church of the people. 
5. The Church has not succeeded in holding its ground among either the leading intellectual classes nor among those classes most easily led astray, the proletariat. In their own milieu, deacons from these classes for these classes could gain influence incomparably deeper than could any priest, since priests would never develop within this milieu the kind of rapport that deacons would have already established. One could develop the diaconate into a means to win back the de-Christianized milieu. An intelligent deacon from the working-class would, without any special theological training, be able to touch the heart of his worker colleagues with just the right words.
After World War II, several of these priests wrote and discussed the diaconate as a permanent state of life. Their work, the work of theologians such as Karl Rahner, and various movements, especially in Germany, paved the way for the diaconate as a permanent state as approved at the Second Vatican Council.

Another movement to be leaven in the everyday world was the formation of the Little Brothers and Little Sisters of Jesus by René Voillaume and Little Sister Magdeleine of Jesus to be a presence among the poor and outcast.

Their first field of presence was among the Muslims in Algeria, following their inspiration by Little Brother Saint Charles de Foucauld. But now their field of mission is among the poor and marginalized. They work and live among the people, witnessed to Christ by their prayer and their daily presence.

All these three movements, in my mind, rose from a concern to be present to those who might not be part of the church community.

The witness of the worker priests and the Little Brothers and Sisters as well as the testimony of Saint Charles de Foucauld mark my understanding of the diaconate. My ordination stole bears the heart and cross of Saint Charles.


Today, remembering Père Henri Perrin, I remember the witness of priest workers as well as many women and men religious who immerse themselves in the lives of the poor, especially the Little Brothers and Little Sisters of Jesus. 

Reflecting on their commitment with the poor and marginalized, I believe that the diaconate should always include some sort of physical presence with those on the margins of society, especially the impoverished.

We are called to reach out to those who might not come to the doors of the church. The call of Pope Francis to go out and encounter those in the margins, central to Evangelii Gaudium and found throughout his teaching, should be central to our diaconate. 

 --- 

 Some photos of me in action as a deacon.
Picking coffee in the parish coffee field
Getting help in directions from a campesino
Helping change the flat tire of the pastor's car
Incensing the faithful at Mass
Baptizing a child in San Agustín


Saturday, October 22, 2022

A long-overdue update on the Dulce Nombre parish

It´s been a long time since I wrote about my daily life. I have been slowing down a bit - partly I'm getting older (75), partly torrential rains and a hurricane, partly a bit of laziness.

The past few months we have experienced a lot of rain, much more than usual. The ground is saturated and the rains have been heavy. In September we had very few days without rain – and not light rains but strong, extended downpours, often with strong winds.
Houses have been damaged, roads have been washed away, parts of bridges have fallen. As a result, communities have been isolated, busses have stopped running for a few days. Life is precarious. 

Here´s the experience in one part of the parish, near El Limón. 

On July 24, part of the ramp up to the bridge.
It was repaired, but even more of the ramp was washed away about August 17.
But the rains were so intense that the river washed away half of the road on the way to Vega Redonda. Another bridge suffered intense damage, wiping out a large concrete block of the bridge.
The roads in the parish have been a challenge. 

There are a few places that are inaccessible and others where you must find a different route. A few times I have had to negotiate really muddy roads, Thanks be to God and a generous gift, I have a good four wheel drive pickup.
Last Sunday began our week of missions. Twenty-five parishioners went out to various communities to visit people in their homes. 

I was asked to take two to a distant village, San Marcos Pavas. Normally you can go there directly, but there was a landslide that wiped out a road and prevented access. So I had to take an alternative route that was much longer. 

But when I go to the place where a bridge crosses the river and usually provides access to both Las Pavas and Bañaderos, I found the area devastated. The road to Bañaderos was cut off and I had to negotiate over narrow paths to get to Las Pavas. 

Here are a few photos.
Here's a photo of the two missionaries with a woman from Las Pavas who was arranging their visit.


We, as a parish, have been trying to help and accompany the persons. 

While I was away for a short visit to our sister parish in Ames, the pastor visited a number of communities, including one where people had to abandon their homes and others were in danger.

We have a parish solidarity fund that has been used to help subsidize people medical exams and prescriptions.

We have also used it to help people rebuild their homes or make repairs. I went out a few times.
There were a few donations of clothes. Thanks be to God, the clothing was good and appropriate for our people. (The last time clothing came, the quality was poor and much of the clothing was XL – with pants large enough for three Hondurans. 

Some communities also donated food stuffs, including one that has suffered from the storms. 

I also learned of several communities where there was a need for mattresses. So I bought some in Santa Rosa.

I went out to a few communities with food, mattresses, and clothing. In one community, even the kids helped in the distribution of supplies.
While in Mar Azul, I visited a ninety-four year old woman who was dying. I prayed with her and the family. Although she couldn’t speak and the family thought she was not conscious, she was responding with her eyes and even with a gentle touch when I took her hand. She had not received communion for a while, partly because she couldn’t easily swallow. I asked the family if she had been anointed. She hadn’t. I told them I’d mentioned this to the pastor. 

Padre German went out a day or two later, which was good since she died just af ew days ago. 

This week we had a group come out to weed the parish coffee field. Twenty-five came, including about 16 young people. I went and picked them up some of them in one community.
There was a horse grazing near the coffee field. Two guys decided to give it stylish braids!
I didn’t take them back to their communities since I had planned to visit a priest friend of mine who is the priest for Amigos de Jesús which serves about 130 children from difficult living situations.

The trip was filled with surprises. The international highway had suffered from the rains.
There was even a new road sign – “Geological fault.”
In addition, the road into Amigos had been cut off for a short time; part of the road being washed away by a river. A new road was carved out a little above the washout.
I was at Amigos de Jesús less than 48 hours, but it was a time to catch up with Padre Pato, serve as deacon at Mass twice (preaching once), relax, pray, and read. It was good for me. I want to return sometime next year.
I left Thursday morning, since I had agreed to a Celebration of the Word with Communion for the end of a novenario in San Antonio El Alto for Don Efraín.

 The novenario is a beautiful tradition here after a death. People meet, usually in the home of the deceased, for nine days. People come and pray and be with the mourning family. What a great way to say goodbye to a loved one and to mourn in community.

Often the family asks for a Mass on the ninth day. The pastor was not available and so they asked me. I was most happy to go since I had brought Communion to Don Efraín and his wife several times. I drove part of the way and parked the car up from the house and walked the rest.
A good crowd was there from many villages, since family members and friends often come from afar.
For me, it is privilege to be able to be present and bring the consolation of the Church.

Friday, I had a training for new catechists. Because of the weather we didn’t have as many as I had hoped. But I did an extended catequesis on the Bible. 

Today, Saturday, I'm working at home: cleaning the house, rearranging drawers, washing some clothing (and hope it dries in three days), writing this blog, preparing for Sunday's homily.

Tomorrow, we will welcome the missionaries back with a 10:00 am in the main church in Dulce Nombre.

One last thought. About a month or two ago, after visiting a family in their home, I thought about my ministry and my vocation. I realized that I need to make a regular examination of my life, asking "When was the last time I was in the home of a poor family?" 

 Here's a picture of the home of a family we helped with clothes and food.

Thursday, October 06, 2022

A good new book on the diaconate

As the only deacon in my diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras, at this time, and only one of the seven deacons in Honduras not aspiring to the priesthood, I am always seeking books and articles that help me better understand what is my vocation and that can deepen my commitment.

When I was discerning the diaconate, I devoured many books, but I have still been searching for other resources. In the past five years I have come across a few new books that have been very helpful, notably: 
  • Scott P. Detisch, Being Claimed by the Eucharist We Celebrate: a spiritual narrative for priests and deacons. 
  • United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, The National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States.
  • Tim O’Donnell, The Deacon: Icon of Christ the Servant, Minister of the Threshold. (I reviewed this here on my blog.) 
  • Enzo Petrolino, Pope Francis: Deacons, Servants of Charity
  • Michael J. Tkacik, Deacons and Vatican II: The Making of a Servant Church. 
  • James Keating, Remain in Me: Holy Orders, Prayer, and Ministry. 
  • W. Shawn McKnight, Understanding the Diaconate: Historical, Theological, and Sociological Foundations. 
Just this year, Deacon William Ditewig has published Courageous Humility: Reflections on the Church, Diakonia, and Deacons, which I have found very helpful and insightful.
After I was asked by our bishop to consider ordination as a deacon, the first article I read was his “A call of their own: The role of deacons in the church,” in the June 2014 issue of US Catholic, in its online version.

When I read about the roots of the restoration of the diaconate as a permanent state in the priests; block at the Dachau concentration camp, I began to take the bishop’s invitation more seriously. 

I have since read other works of Deacon Bill Ditewig and so I was awaiting a chance to read his new one, which I obtained on a visit to the US last month. 

Deacon Bill looks at the diaconate (as well as theology and ecclesiology) from the perspective of “courageous humility,” which may for some seem like an oxymoron. But he examines the “other-directedness” of humility in terms of the Trinity and Love. Humility involves relationship, putting others ahead of oneself (Philippians 2: 2-3).

I found the first four chapters to be most thoughtful and helpful Chapter one, “A Humble Church as Icon of the Humble Trinity,” opened up an understanding of the Trinity and the Church that I had not considered.
In chapter two “Ecclesial 12-Step Program,” he uses Saint Benedict’s Rule for Monks in a creative way that opens up a deeper meaning of humility and kenosis for the church and the diaconate.

In chapter three, he looks at the church as an institution in the light of courageous humility.

I particularly appreciated chapter four, since it reflected my experience. 

In the first weeks of my discernment process, I read the passages in the documents of the Second Vatican Council that opened the way for the re-establishment of the diaconate as a permanent state. I was especially moved by paragraph 16 of Ad Gentes: The Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church:
Where episcopal conferences deem it opportune, the order of the diaconate should be restored as a permanent state of life according to the norms of the Constitution "De Ecclesia." For there are men who actually carry out the functions of the deacon's office, either preaching the word of God as catechists, or presiding over scattered Christian communities in the name of the pastor and the bishop, or practicing charity in social or relief work. It is only right to strengthen them by the imposition of hands which has come down from the Apostles, and to bind them more closely to the altar, that they may carry out their ministry more effectively because of the sacramental grace of the diaconate.
I was surprised since I was not just carrying out one of the functions but in fact, in some way, all of them. I reflected that what I probably needed was “the sacramental grace of the diaconate” to better serve the People of God and noted this in a blog post

The second half of the book is largely concerned with the future of the diaconate and includes a long chapter on possible revisions of Canon Law and another chapter on revisions of the rite of ordination. Though these might seem, on the surface, to be merely technical issues, Deacon Bill incorporates an expanded theology of the diaconate into the nitty-gritty details of ecclesial law and practice. Don’t fail to read these chapters carefully.

OTHER TIDBITS 

There are so many tidbits in this book that I will mention only a few.

Several times, Deacon Bill mentions that the deacon is described by Popes Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II as the “driving force” of the diakonia of the People of God. Pointedly, he writes: “Deacons are not ordained to serve so that others don’t have to; they are to inspire, cajole, model, nurture, support—to lead—each member of the Church to respond to the grace of Baptism in the service of others.” (p. 165)

Deacon Bill emphasizes the connection between the bishop and the deacon in several ways throughout the book. I found it particularly poignant in a passage where he builds on the early church’s understanding of the deacon as “the eyes and ears“ of the bishop and suggests a special role of the deacon today: “As the ‘eyes and ears’ of the bishop on behalf of the whole Church, deacons are expected to see needs that others miss or ignore, and have the skills to encourage, inspire, and support creative ways to mee these needs.” (p. 75) 

Some other notes

Deacon Bill shows a sensitivity toward the celibate deacon which I appreciate, being the only celibate deacon in Honduras and one of few in the world. The spirituality of the celibate deacon is something that needs to be developed. I have written some provisional posts of the celibate deacon on my blog, but I look forward to a more systematic approach. (Maybe I have to take time to write this.) 

I would have liked to see more on the diakonia of Charity and how to integrate it with the other two dimensions of the triple munus of Word, Sacrament, and Charity. What I have been looking for – and not yet found – is a theology and spirituality of the diaconate that integrates the triple munus through the lens of Christ, the Servant. Maybe this is a second book I have to write. 

Two suggestions

An index would have been useful. 

I have reservations about several of his suggested revisions of Canon Law. In particular, the Code of Canon law recommendations 9 and 10 he proposes use the term “married clerics,” but this excludes celibate deacons not on the path to priesthood. I believe that celibate deacons, not on the path to priesthood, should also not be bound by the two canons since they may need to manage good belonging to others and are often responsible for their own economic welfare. 

THANK YOU, DEACON BILL 

I heartily recommend this book, especially to deacons, priests, and bishops. The entire People of God would benefit from reflecting on the many themes of this book, especially the call for a humble, pilgrim church.

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

An integrated diaconate – the triple ministry

William Ditewig, in his most recent book, Courageous Humility: Reflections on the Church, Diakonia, and Deacons, repeats and emphasizes the teaching of the church that the ministry of the deacon is to the triple ministry of Word, Sacrament, and Charity. A deacon serves in all three dimensions, not neglecting even one of them. My last five days could be seen as a test case for this understanding of the diaconate. 

The parish’s communion ministers usually meet on the first Saturday of each month, to share concerns, to do some sharing, and for continuing formation. The pastor or I usually are in charge of the formation. I try to attend every meeting, to accompany them and to help them work through questions and concerns. This is a way to help animate their diakonia, their service rooted in our common baptism. 

This month I didn’t attend their meeting since there was the ordination of a new presbyter in the diocese. I was supposed to go with the pastor, but he sent me on ahead, since I would have to be vested for the Mass and ordination. I served as deacon at the Mass and ordination, something I have done a few times. I hastened home after the Mass, in an effort to try to catch up on domestic chores. 

Most Sunday mornings I go to a rural village for a Celebration of the Word with Communion. But I decided to spend the morning at home – reading, praying, preparing for the week.

My life has been a little hectic these past few weeks.

Monday. September 26, I returned from a whirlwind trip to our sister parish in Ames, Iowa. Tuesday, I set out for a meeting of the National Commission for Integral Ecology, a new ministry of the Honduras Conference of Bishops. I returned home on Wednesday.

These three days entailed about fourteen hours of driving. Needless to say, I was exhausted and had to catch up with the pastor, especially in light of the damages wrought by the severe rains during September. I also had laundry to do as well as some shopping for groceries.

Sunday afternoon I served as deacon at Mass in San Agustín. Before Mass, the pastor asked me if I was ready to preach! I was. But before Mass, the pastor and I met with the local church council. (Every village has a church council which is in charge of the administrative details of the local church. Padre German shared a concern about the possible extension of a gold mine onto the Cerro Quetzal, by San Agustín. The mining company has a mine in nearby San Andrés, Copán, and you can see the mine from the front steps of the church. The mining company uses a cyanide leeching process to extract the gold from the rocks. There are thus a number of serious environmental issues. In addition, the mining company dug up and moved the remains of those buried in the local cemetery of the village of Azacualpa. Father asked the council to investigate if the reports are true so that we can respond.

Monday, I was planning to accompany the pastor to two villages for Mass, one with Baptisms. He called me early in the morning asking me to go to the one village for the baptisms, since the bishop had asked him to attend to an emergency situation. I went and, in the midst of a Celebration of the Word with Communion, I baptized ten children (under 7 years of age.) I, of course, preached. But what was unusual was the location of the celebration – the local school. They are building a new church and so have to seek an alternative venue for worship. Surprisingly, it went very well. After leaving, I looked at my phone and found I had just missed a call from the parish secretary. She called and told me that the pastor wanted me to celebrate baptisms in another community that evening. Of course I said yes. So, after a short period of rest at home, I left about 4 pm for another celebration with another ten baptisms of children under 7. The next day was the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi and I had planned to accompany the pastor for two Masses. He had five Masses planned, the first one at 6:30 am in the parish center, the last in a mountain village at 6 pm. I got to two villages where I served as deacon and, to relieve the pastor, preached on Saint Francis.
I got home about 6 pm, tired but glad to have served. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, the parish has suffered much from torrential rains during September. In response to this, several communities have responded trying to help. The pastor had shown me several sacks of corn, donated by one of the communities affected by the rains. They wanted to help others in the parish who were suffering from the intense poverty which is all around us. The pastor asked me to help get the grain to families in need. I talked with people from several different parts of the parish to identify families in need and will be distributing the corn and some other provisions later this week. I also learned that some clothing had been distributed. I know that there are people who need clothing, but I dreaded having to go through the clothing. Right after the November 2020 hurricanes Eta and Iota, we got lots of clothing, much of it unsuitable or unusable. Thanks be to God, these sacks of clothing were much more suitable. The two cooks and I spent several hours today sorting the clothing. I’ll be going around the next few days to distribute the clothes and the food stuffs. I plan to do this starting tomorrow morning. But first I have to meet with two young people who are getting marriage, together with two witnesses, in the final interviews. After that, someone will pass by who needs some financial help with an operation on Friday. Such is part of the life of a missionary deacon. I also have had to contact people to cancel a meeting as well as to determine where there are needs in light of the ongoing poverty and the effects of the torrential rains. The diakonia of the Word – preaching, connecting with catechists, and more. The diakonia of the Sacrament – assisting at the altar, baptizing, accompanying the Communion ministers, interviewing couples preparing for the sacrament of matrimony and more. The diakonia of Charity – assisting with financial needs, distributing food and clothing to those in need, accompanying the pursuit of justice and the protection of our common home. There’s more that I do but this gives you an idea how one deacon tries to live out the fullness of the ordained diaconal ministry – always seeking to be a driving force for the diaconal service of all the people of God.

Monday, October 03, 2022

Neighbor to me

When the parish of St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames, Iowa, was doing major renovations, they decided to have a major artwork on a wall in the new gathering space. This “story wall” would connect the life of the parish with the scriptures and liturgy that sustain it.

An artist parishioner, Jo Myers-Walker, chose to make clay images to mount on the wall. She involved parishioners in the project, and some even helped with the clay.
I lived near Jo and one day I stopped by to see her work.

She told me that she was going to put an image of the Good Samaritan and the man fallen among thieves on the wall. She mentioned that she wanted to put me as the Good Samaritan with a Central American as the man fallen among thieves.

I had been working with some refugees in the parish, advocating for justice in Central America, and had been visiting El Salvador for many years.

By the way, my interest in El Salvador and Central America was a gift of the people of the parish of St. Thomas, especially its Charity, Justice, and Peace Commission. I knew of Central America before beginning work there in 1983 but it was not an area of major concern until parishioners moved me to respond. Thus, Jo wanted to portray me as the Good Samaritan. 

I explained to Jo that in many ways the people of Central America had served as Good Samaritans for me, helping to heal my wounds, helping me to grow in faith, rescuing me from a commitment to justice that was just in the head. They opened my heart to God and to the poor. Thus, I should be the one being attended to by the Good Samaritan.

Also, I noted that the Good Samaritan was an outsider, one despised by the religious leaders of Jesus’ time. It was thus appropriate that the Samaritan be an outsider, one who was despised and seen as less than human, as Central American refugees were depicted then and as refugees are still treated.

Jo listened, as she does so often.

The image – a Central American Samaritan and me as the man fallen among thieves – is at the top of the story wall sculptures.
Today the Gospel is the parable of the Good Samaritan. 

As I now walk among the Hondurans in the parish of Dulce Nombre, I feel more than ever that the people here have helped me heal, have moved me to reach out to the needy, and been a source of joy for me.

Some people read this parable allegorically in a way that posits Jesus as the Good Samaritan – and that reading does make sense.

The rejected person sees the man fallen among thieves, has compassion, comes near, and anoints him and takes care of him.

So does Jesus do for us.

So do the people of Honduras do for me.

And so I am called to do likewise – to make myself neighbor to those at the margins of this world. 

May I be made so worthy to become a good neighbor, a good Samaritan, a disciple of Jesus.