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Appeal is a chance to put our faith in action

In his first letter to the Corinthians St. Paul taught that we are all members of one body – the Body of Christ. If one member of the body hurts, then the whole body hurts.
Jesus taught us that we are all united in Him and taught the importance of seeing the needs of others. Yet we often fail to see the needs of others. We often fail to see the struggles of the poor. Jesus taught two parables that are particularly appropriate in calling us to be aware of others.
When the apostles asked Jesus what it would be like when we stand before our Father on the last day, He said that our Father will separate us into two groups like a shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will ask both groups when I was hungry did you give me to eat, thirsty did you give me to drink, in prison did you visit me, sick did you comfort me, a stranger did you welcome, naked did you clothe me. Jesus said that both groups will reply: “when did we see you hungry, thirsty, (etc.)?” The Father will reply to both, “Whatever you did to the least, you did to me.” One group will go on to salvation, the other will not.
The other parable is the story of the rich man and the poor man who sat in front of the rich man’s house. Each day the rich man had clothes to wear and food to eat. The poor man had rags to wear and went hungry. When they both died the poor man went to “the bosom of Abraham” while the rich man went to torment.
What was the offense of the “goats” in the first parable and the rich man in the second? Jesus does not say that anyone mistreated the poor, it was only that they did not see the poor. For example, the rich man did not tell the poor man to stop sitting near his house; he did not beat the poor man and drive him away; he did not call the police to get the poor man to move on. The rich man just did not see the poor man or do anything to help.
The challenge of Jesus to us is to see the needs of others. We are one body and called to care for one another. We are called to open our eyes and our hearts to the needs of others. Jesus makes this abundantly clear. At the Last Supper Jesus tells His apostles that from that evening on God wished to be worshiped by His followers having a meal. Of all the things that Jesus could have commended His followers to do, He commanded them to have a meal. Jesus took bread and wine, said “This is my body. … This is my blood. … Do this in memory of me.” Why a meal? There are many reasons but one is that food brings us together. No matter how often we may go alone to a drive-up window of a fast food restaurant, that is not the way we prefer to eat. I have yet to meet a teenager who wishes to sit alone in the cafeteria at lunch. Instead, they want their friends at the table. Food brings us together and Jesus told His disciples that he wanted them to gather together at a table and share His body and His blood. It is a visible sign that we are united in Christ.
There are many worthwhile charities which ask for our support. There may be an appeal in your community to support the symphony orchestra, or the opera, or the museum, etc. Among these charities is the annual Catholic Charities Appeal. Since 1931 we as the body of Christ have come together to care for our neighbors in need.
What does the Appeal make possible? It helps the women who came to Catholic Social Services needing decent clothes to wear for a job interview and the volunteers helped her to find the clothes needed to make a good impression. The man who came into Catholic Social Services on a cold day who did not have a coat to wear. People who get behind on bills (often because of illness) who can’t pay a utility bill or rent that month. The mother with a problem pregnancy who is considering an abortion and needs support, advice with her pregnancy, baby food, baby clothes, parenting classes. The college students who are supported by Catholic campus ministry often at a time that their faith is being challenged by others. The elderly person who has no family around and needs a ride to the doctor or volunteers to do simple repairs at their house.
What makes the Catholic Charities Appeal different from many other charities? This Appeal has to do with our eternal salvation. It is an opportunity for men and women of faith to put their faith into action. It is an opportunity to respond to the command of Jesus and to see the struggles of our neighbors and to do something.
I ask for your support of the Catholic Charities Appeal. No gift is too small or too large. Your gift is needed, no matter how modest. A raindrop may seem insignificant, but put enough together and they create a mighty river.
Let us come together as the Body of Christ and care for one another.

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