The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

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

Saint Agnes School | Contact Us

1st Sunday of Lent

Date: 
Sun, 03/05/2017
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

I don’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence…but this is what $2.50 looks like.
(Visual Aid:  hold up a card with 2 $1 bills and 2 quarters taped to it.)
 
What can you buy with $2.50?
            - five 1st class postage stamps.
            - 2 rides on a TANK bus.
            - a double cheeseburger and a large drink from McDonalds.
            - a gallon of milk.
            - a loaf of bread.
            - ½ scoop of Graeter’s Ice Cream.
            - one Skyline cheese coney and a small drink.
            - a gallon of gas.
 
What’s so important about $2.50?  Just this.
Many hold that this is the threshold of poverty.
Anyone who lives on less than $2.50 a day, lives in poverty.
This amounts to a little over $900 per year.
 
There are 7.4 billion people currently living in the world.
3 billion people—40% of the world’s current population—live on less than $2.50 a day.
 
The consequences of living in poverty are dire:  malnutrition, high infant mortality rates, sickness and disease, violence and crime, limited access to medical care, shortened life span, miserable living conditions.
 
People who live in poverty suffer greatly.
 
How much do you live on per day?
I asked this of the St. Agnes School children yesterday.  So let’s use that as a context.
            - if you eat 3 meals a day at $4 a meal (which I know is a conservative estimate): $12.
            - the cost of receiving an education….taking the Catholic School tuition of one child and dividing it by 365 come to $13 per day.
            - if you get your haircut 8 times a year, buy four Xbox games a year, have three $.50 candy bars a week, see 4 movies a year…a loose estimate would be $2 a day.
            - then there are clothes and shoes:  $360 per year; $30 per month; $1 per day.
            - living in a house (with utilities and upkeep):  this is only a guess…but let’s say $10/day.
            - adding a car expense…my car costs me about $15 per day to own and operate.
 
Has anyone been adding this up?  It’s $41 per day.
(Visual Aid:  Unroll scroll to $40 dollars.)
 
As a priest living in the US,
taking my salary and dividing by the number in my household, which is one,
and then dividing by the number of days in a year,
this is what I have access per day to live on (Visual Aid:  unroll the scroll all the way).
This is $65 dollars.  I have access to $65 dollars a day to live on.
 
This is $2.50 a day…the threshold of poverty.  This is $65 a day.
 
The question is:  do you, do I, have wealth?  Yes, we do.
 
What does Jesus teach us about wealth?
            - we have to be careful that we don’t start serving wealth instead of serving God.
 
What does Jesus say to those who have wealth?
            - share what you have with the poor.
 
During Lent we think about what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
            - show concern for the needs of others.
            - act with compassion and kindness.
            - be charitable.
 
            - during Lent Jesus tells us:  don’t forget about the poor?
            - How do we remember the poor in the Season of Lent?
                        - we pray for them.
                        - almsgiving.
 
The temptation that we must confront and overcome…
is the temptation to close our ears to the cry of the poor.
The temptation is to place blame…who caused this poverty?
If the poor themselves did then they should sleep in the bed they have made for themselves.
If it was some social or civil institution, let that institution take responsibility.
The temptation is to be selfish and greedy
to be fooled by the consumer oriented mentality that says
“you’ll be happy when you get the material things that you want.”
 
Caring for the poor is something Jesus himself did.
It is a good deed to help the poor.
It’s one of the ways we as Catholics live out our faith.  It pleases God.
It is a way of showing mercy.
It is an act of penance and self-denial.
It is a way to show sorrow for our sins.
It helps us overcome selfishness and greed.
It helps bring us to conversion, to a change of heart.
It is a way of being generous.
It is an expression of love.
It’s something that will help us get to heaven.
Think of it this way:  every poor person we encounter is Jesus knocking at our door.
 
The Season of Lent is a time of inner reflection.
It’s like an annual spiritual check-up.
Of concern is the condition of our heart.
The spiritual cancer we want to avoid and overcome and reverse if necessary
is hardness of heart.
A hard heart is a spiritually dead heart.
 
How do we know our heart is dead?
 
     - we don't hear the cry of the poor.
     - we don't feel guilty when we sin, when we tell a lie, or fail to keep our word, or cause some harm to another.
     - we've lost that quality to be sensitive.
     - we've lost the desire to feel sympathy for those in need.
     - we've become unbending as far as adjusting and adapting for the sake of being in good relationship to others.
     - when we no longer delight in the ways of God.
     - we have become indifferent to evil and suffering.
 
     - when all of our responses in life are mechanical, cold, inhuman
then we have lost our heart.
 
Lent is at time of Christian resuscitation.
It is a time to make things right.
 
Lent is a time for us to re-discover what is essential.
It is essential that we know our faith.
It is essential that we live our faith.
 
Anything that would keep us from hearing the poor, seeing the poor,
or giving alms to the poor,
are part of the devil’s temptation
to keep us from doing what Jesus did.
 
Our prayer today:  “ O Lord, come to our aid during this Season of Lent.  Renew our hearts in Your love.  May the concerns of Your Son Jesus Christ become and always remain our concerns.  Amen!”
 

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