Reflection for Sunday – January 15, 2017

Readings: Isaiah 49:3,5-6, Corinthians 1:1-3, John 1:29-34
Preacher: Sue Howard

“Here I am, Lord, Is it I, Lord, I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.” That familiar refrain—Dan Schutte’s musical adaptation to the words of the prophet Isaiah—seem especially appropriate today.

Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

Ngo Hna (pronounced no nah) says thank you to all of you who have helped her flee the poverty and violence of Myanmar and the refugee camps in Malaysia. Her parents both died of unknown illnesses when she was 13 years old. Her uncle took her to the refugee camp but they were stopped every day and threatened by soldiers. Her uncle was put in jail because he had no Citizen Card. For two years they lived in fear. Now they are living in Rochester and Ngo is studying hard, hoping she can become a doctor so she can return to her country to help her own people.
(To learn more see the Rochester Refugee Resettlement Services web site)

Here am I Lord, I come to do your will.

Ali is suffering. He is 13 years old and works everyday selling biscuits and tissues to make $4 to help feed his family. They live in a refugee tent camp with thousands of people from Syria. He has seen violent murders happen before his eyes. His mother’s heart breaks because he has to work instead of go to school. How are you being called to respond to the needs of God’s people?
(To learn more see this World Vision video)

Here am I Lord, I come to do your will.

The Gospel of John inspires us to embrace the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in which we have all been immersed and from which we arise to participate in the same saving work as our Lord. That commission didn’t end when we received our sacrament of Confirmation. That was just the beginning. When I hear the stories like the ones shared here my heart is moved, but I don’t know what to do. There are thousands of stories like these. When I’ve read about all the poverty initiatives going on in Rochester and around the world I just become overwhelmed.

In the back of my mind I hear the words of caution from area leaders that say don’t just throw money at it. Then what do I do? Here are some of the excuses I have or that I hear from others: I work full time; I have a family; I am too young, too old, too busy, I’m afraid of people who don’t speak English or are from foreign lands and cultures; I don’t have any people skills; I don’t have any extra financial resources; I already give to these causes; I gave to the Appeal; what more do they want?

Here am I Lord, I come to do your will.

It’s haunting isn’t it? Something isn’t right. If God is calling me to respond and I can’t do it, or won’t do it then the Holy Spirit that enlivens and gives life to the mission of Christ is being snuffed out in me, and you, then in our whole parish community. So what do we do when we need help? We call out, call out to God. “Help me God, I don’t know what to do!” “Help me Lord, I am weak!” “Help me Mary, my feet are like clay!” Yes, call on the most powerful name in the world today, call on Jesus!

Here am I Lord, I come to do your will.

Fine words for someone who works for the Church, for a minister, or priest, or a woman religious, or a deacon, or a Catholic worker. They have committed their lives to work with the poor. Not me. Sorry, that’s not going to work. Try again.

Here am I Lord, I come to do your will.

Every Sunday we hear words of encouragement and promise that God will be with us in all that we need. Now is the time we need to get out of our pews and turn to each other and say, I will help if you will help. If we all work together and put our minds and hearts together we can make a difference in this little sphere of influence that we can actually touch and see. Somewhere in Rochester, or your school, or your place of work or worship there is someone who wants to make a difference too. A difference in the refugee community, a difference in our schools, a difference in our world. In 2017 let us make our light shine to the nations and the salvation and peace of God reach to the ends of the earth!

Sue Howard
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