December 10, 2017

We had a smooth transition to our new posture for the Communion Rite at all three of our communities last weekend. I am grateful for your willingness to adapt to this new posture and to remain standing while all our brothers and sisters receive communion. Since it was one of those weekends where I was able to be present at all three communities (5:00 pm Vigil at St. Thomas, 9:00 am Sunday at Star of the Sea, and 5:00 pm Sunday night at St. Joseph), I heard from a number of you how much you enjoyed the sense of communion during the ritual.

I also heard from folks who said that it will take them a little while to get comfortable with standing for that long. Some parishioners asked me what they should do if they simply can’t stand for that long. I reiterated that if you are unable to stand for that long, you should feel free to be seated when you need to.

As a pastor it is very encouraging when we make a change that I know is going to be difficult for some, and people are willing to set personal feelings aside and embrace the change for the greater good of being in communion with the whole church. So, once again, thank you.

As I mentioned in last week’s column, we take up a special collection today for Catholic Community Services and Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington. Last year the Bishops of Washington State wrote a pastoral letter about poverty, entitled, Who is My Neighbor? The question comes in Luke’s Gospel when Jesus responds to a question from a scholar of the law, who asks the following question to test Jesus:

“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answers, “What is written in the law, how do you read it?” The scholar answers, “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus replies to him and says, “You have answered correctly, do this and you will live.” But, Luke tells us that because he wished to justify himself, he asked, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus answers by telling the Parable of the Good Samaritan. This parable has become so well known, among Christians and non-Christians, that we even have laws in many states called “the Good Samaritan Law,” which protects someone from liability if unintended consequences occur as a result of trying to help someone who is injured.

Jesus’ parable, and such modern-day laws, make clear that everyone is my neighbor, especially the one who is most in need. Latest statistics show that approximately 14%, or about 960,000 people are living in poverty in our state. These are our brothers and sisters who cry out to us in their need. These are our neighbors.

Through the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Knights of Columbus at St. Joseph and St. Thomas, and the Nathe Fund at Star of the Sea, we reach out locally to those in need. Catholic Community Services and Catholic Housing Services (CCS and CHS) allow us to contribute to the wider community and the poor throughout Western Washington.

As we make our way through this Advent season, and prepare for the coming of the Lord, may our efforts on behalf of the poor in Washington State, and particularly the work of CCS and CHS, keep us alert to what St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said is Jesus among us “in the distressing disguise of the poor.”

God Bless,
Fr. Gary Lazzeroni