The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

The Church of Saint Agnes
1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

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31st Week in Ordinary Time

Date: 
Mon, 11/06/2017
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1946 in a cave near the Qumran archeological site.
One of the discovered documents labelled itself as “the Rule of the Congregation”.
Written in the 2nd century BC, it describes how a particular religious sect was ordered;
it describes their rules for living during the last days.
It was an eschatological community existing in Israel
who believed they were living in ends times.
According to this Rule of the Congregation
the following people are forbidden entrance to the eschatological banquet: 
those who are afflicted in the flesh; crushed in feet or hands;
lame; blind; deaf; dumb; those who suffer from defective eyesight or senility.
 
It is believed that today’s Gospel is Luke’s response to these restrictions.
Where this sect was excluding the outcast, the afflicted and the disadvantaged from membership
Luke instructed his community to go out of its way to include
the outcast, the afflicted and the disadvantaged.
For this is what Jesus did.
 
Where the sect limited the elect, those chosen to participate in the Salvation of God,
to a certain class of people,
Jesus emphasized that the elect, first and foremost,
include those with little or no social or economic influence.
Jesus challenges his hearers,
instead of surrounding themselves with similar classes of people as they were,
they are to surround themselves with and show partiality to the lowest class of people….
not in a patronizing way, not in a condescending way,
but with love and genuine concern.
 
Through Jesus, God rescues society’s throw-aways, society’s failures, society’s scapegoats.
The Christian community serves as a haven for such people, a home for such people.
The Christian community is meant to be a place where the disadvantaged find what they need:
acceptance, respect, love, welcome, protection, care, support….
where they will find these things without a collection agency being sent to their door
to collect expected remuneration.
 
Now it’s not a free ride for the needy.  They are expected to contribute their time, their gifts,
to the good of the community.
They are expected to adopt Christian virtue and live according to the Christian way.
They are expected to be courteous, civil, patient, tolerant and concerned for the welfare of others.
But the approach of the community, for the most part, needs to be “help first, ask questions later”.
 
I’m not saying that the needy and disadvantaged automatically go to heaven.
I am saying that Jesus is not impressed by or swayed by wealth, social status, social reputation.
I am saying that the blessings we receive from God, the giftedness, the advantage,
become a source of damnation when they lead to haughtiness of heart,
a sense of superiority, dominance over others, the expectation of submission, hoarding, greed,
self-importance, selfishness and self-centeredness.
I am saying that if we go through our entire Christian life without some contact with the less fortunate,
we have somehow fallen short of the way of life promoted by the Gospels.
 
Today’s prayer:  “O Lord, give us generous and loving hearts, especially for those who are disadvantaged in some way, those who are looked down upon or have been abandoned by society. Through the words and example of Jesus Your Son, revive our desire and our willingness to welcome them and celebrate life with them.  Amen!”