July 21, 2019

In this space last week I noted how central Sunday Mass is for us Catholics. We really can’t be “all in, all the way” and see gathering every Sunday for Mass as optional. In addition to being present for Mass, the Lord calls us to allow the sacred actions of the liturgy to shape and form us.

Such willingness to allow the Lord to shape us through the nourishment of his word and sacrament can be a challenge. I often think that our catechumens and candidates for full communion (those who are in the process to become Catholic) are living reminders to us of allowing the Lord to work in our lives - allowing Him to change us and draw us closer to Him.

Placing discipleship, that is following the Lord Jesus in our everyday lives, at the top of our priority list is the kind of conversion of heart that is a life-long process for us. So many other loyalties compete for the top of that priority list. This can be a particular challenge when we confront actions in our own lives, or in the life of our community, that are clearly contrary to the message and ministry of Jesus.

We have a choice to make in those situations. Do we come to the issue that we are struggling with asking the Lord to show us the way? Do I approach the struggle admitting that there is a disconnect between what my faith calls me to and what I am doing in my life? Or, do I admit that I am not really interested in what my faith tradition has to say about a personal or community struggle?

My experience is that many of us are much more open to seeing the disconnect and allowing the Lord to lead us and strengthen us in our personal lives - around how we treat family members and friends, and how we live the personal morality that the Lord calls us to as we strive to follow him. As a confessor, I have observed that Church teaching and the demands of the Gospel around sexual issues have shaped us as a people much more than the demands to apply our faith to our lives as citizens.

In my homily last Sunday I noted how the Parable of the Good Samaritan was assigned as our scriptures on the same day that there was to be a large scale operation to find and deport immigrant families that have recently arrived in the U.S. The coming together of these scriptures and that current event provided an opportunity for me to reflect on how the challenges that “foreigners” among us place before us is not new.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan was Jesus’ response to the question “who is my neighbor?” The parable made clear that treating others with mercy, especially those in need, is what it means to be a neighbor.

In this week’s bulletin, we have reprinted a copy of a statement that the Bishops of Washington State published on June 28, addressing the immigration crisis. I ask you to read the Bishops’ statement carefully and prayerfully. The six bishops in our state and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have taken a position on the issue of immigration reform that emerges from the Bible and from the long tradition of Catholic Social Doctrine. They do not approach this issue from a partisan perspective, but as teachers in our Church.

May their reflections help us to place the issue of immigration in the context of our discipleship and shape our approach to addressing this crisis.

Fr. Gary Lazzeroni