By Father Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose
Vicar General for Special Projects, Diocese of San Jose
“Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing”
Three years ago, we opened our Church to 15 women experiencing homelessness. One of the first nights, I had dinner with our guests to welcome them. I sat down with them and I wondered what would I say? We had surrounded them with so many people that they were somewhat overwhelmed. I sat and just listened. And they talked. And they talked. And it was good. And what they said was so raw, so hard to hear and yet it was what they really needed to say. I didn’t need to say anything. I just needed to listen. I suspect they hadn’t had anyone to listen to them for a long time. That is one of the struggles of homelessness; you have no one to talk with; nobody is prepared to listen to your story.
In that moment, I realized that today that scripture passage was being fulfilled right before me. This is what we ought to be doing as a parish. I thought how powerful it is that we as a church had chosen to do this. Our ministry is simply to be present to them; to acknowledge that they matter in God’s eyes. Maybe they can begin to believe that God loves them and there are other people who could love them too.
When we are surrounded by so many people in our lives who love us and care for us, we sometimes forget that the greatest thing that we can do for each other is to simply be present to one another; without the TV; without the phones; without even the newspaper. Just simply be present to one another.
Today’s Gospel is the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. In Luke’s Gospel, he is always full of the spirit and he says he is anointed to bring glad tidings to the poor; to bring liberty to captives; to bring healing to all.
“Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Today you and I are Christ. We are the ones, today, to bring glad tidings to the poor. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians says we are the living Body of Christ. If Christ is to work in this world, it is because of our hands and our feet.
When we celebrate at the Eucharist, we become what we receive. We become that Body of Christ to others, the Body broken for others; the Blood poured out for others. It is today that we are called to be present to one another; to our families; to our friends; and most especially the broken, the needy, the homeless today.