Sunday, November 26, 2017

Maria Perez Has Something To Say

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect about what we are thankful for.  It is a time of acknowledgement and gratitude to Jesus Christ for all the miracles, love, and unending mercy.  We give thanks for all that Our Saviour has provided for us, which will then allow us to realize that life is truly amazing and wonderful.  

Sometimes, reflecting on how much we have to be thankful for gets lost throughout our daily lives as we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our jobs, our familial duties, and our other various obligations.  Thanksgiving Day is a time to come together with family and friends, and realize our abundant blessings given to us through our Lord.   In turn, we must think of those who may be without family or food, who are sick, or suffering, and help one another in any way that we can, whether through volunteering to work with the homeless, visiting a person who is homebound or in the hospital, or being a friend to someone in need.

Below is a Thanksgiving poem I wrote:

Glory be to the Almighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ!
Thank you Jesus for giving me a fresh start in life.
I thought that there was no hope
I was broken inside, weak, and betrayed
I lost a baby and a fur baby who I loved dearly, I lost hopes for the future, I lost relationships
During those dark times, I always prayed to Jesus to help others who are suffering like I was
I prayed to Mother Mary to save me from this despair
I never gave up on Jesus
I called out to Him everyday
I knew the darkness and sadness would end
But I felt trapped in my circumstances
There was no possible way I could ever have the bravery and strength to be on my own
Sometimes I did not even want to live as the pain was just too much
I know that Jesus has always provided for me and has pulled me out of each broken place
But as for this most recent situation I just wasn’t sure about anything
I was completely alone for the first time in my life
My faith in humanity was gone
I had nowhere to go, nobody to turn to
However, slowly I could see myself becoming stronger and more independent
Out of this betrayal, confusion, and sickness, I was seeing the world again and all its wonderful possibilities
I began to see all the opportunities that God had laid out
I am grateful for these options
I am grateful for every second of every single day
I am thankful for my health, for my family, for my friends
I am living, I have hope again. 

The first scripture reading for this Sunday focuses on Jesus Christ’s unending love for us.  He will seek us out when we are lost.  I learned that it is important to be grateful at all times, not just when things are going our way.  Even when we are lost, sad, and confused, Jesus always gives us something to be grateful for.  We always need to be mindful of that.

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Lectionary: 160

Reading 1.   EZ 34:11-12, 15-17

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
As a shepherd tends his flock
when he finds himself among his scattered sheep,
so will I tend my sheep.
I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered
when it was cloudy and dark.
I myself will pasture my sheep;
I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD.
The lost I will seek out,
the strayed I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up,
the sick I will heal,
but the sleek and the strong I will destroy,
shepherding them rightly.

As for you, my sheep, says the Lord GOD,
I will judge between one sheep and another,
between rams and goats.
I have found that this scripture has spoken to me in a very personal way.  Jesus promises to tend after his sheep, to rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark.  Jesus will seek out the lost, bind up the injured, and heal the sick.  I can attest to this Bible passage as I have also been lost, injured, and sick for the past few years.  And each time, Jesus Christ has heard me cry out to Him, He has never left my side, He has guided me through my travels, He has saved me from death.

The Responsorial Psalm is: PS 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me in right paths
for his name's sake.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The second reading from the Corinthians tells us that there are going to be great days ahead.  This is known as the ‘first fruits,’ which are similar to the huge availability of fruits that can be consumed after a long harvest.  This reading also depicts that there is an order in the resurrection, since Christ himself is the first fruit, followed by his people, and lastly, the evil, who will also be raised before others.   

Reading 2.  1 COR 15:20-26, 28
Brothers and sisters:
Christ has been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For since death came through man,
the resurrection of the dead came also through man.
For just as in Adam all die,
so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,
but each one in proper order:
Christ the firstfruits;
then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ;
then comes the end,
when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father,
when he has destroyed every sovereignty
and every authority and power.
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
When everything is subjected to him,
then the Son himself will also be subjected
to the one who subjected everything to him,
so that God may be all in all.
Because Christ is the first fruit, this reading also tells us that His resurrection is just the beginning.  Soon after, there will be the resurrection of everyone who have placed their love, hope, and faith in Him.  After the people who love Christ have become resurrected, God will judge the wicked and save the righteous.   Then, Christ will remove sin from the world and end all earthly power.  The world must be what God created it to be, before sin was introduced.
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”  When Christ returns, He will place evil under His feet, and that will be the end of God’s enemies.  When death is destroyed, the dead also are resurrected.  However, I feel that there can also be a spiritual death while we are still alive.   Sometimes I struggle as I try to be the best person that I can be and do God’s will.  But, I know that in spite of my weaknesses and failures, God is merciful, and by Christ I will be saved.

Gospel Matthew 25:31-46
Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Then he will say to those on his left,
'Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'
Then they will answer and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?'
He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.'
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life."
Is it better to be a goat or a sheep?   According to the Gospel from Matthew 25:31-46, when we help others, Jesus is pleased, because it is like we are helping him.  People were surprised when Jesus knew if they had helped others or were dismissive and selfish.  Jesus calls on us to help the poor, the sick, the distraught, and the hungry.  We must be like the sheep and give back to our communities, help our families, give food and clothing to the poor, help comfort those who are sick, attend to the elderly, etc.
The example of how to be a sheep is seen right here at St. Francis Xavier, where there are dozens of ways to get involved in our community and serve.  Whether its volunteering to work at the Welcome Table, or help distribute food at the Food Pantry, or cook and serve food to the homeless on Thanksgiving, the community of St. Francis Xavier has been a beacon of hope, service, and gratitude to hundreds of people for many years.  Jesus encourages us to love our neighbors, our families, and strangers.   On this Thanksgiving holiday, I am so thankful to be a part of St. Francis Xavier, where I have a multitude of opportunities to give back to my community, while working with other amazing people who all love to serve the Lord.
**************
Maria Theresa Perez recently moved to Chelsea and found this amazing church located 1 block away from her home! She immediately began to volunteer for the Xavier mission, where she serves others at the Welcome Table, the All Saints Clothing Room, and the Food Pantry.  She also volunteers with the Honduras Companion Communities Project, the Xavier Peace and Justice Committee, Xavier Young Adults, and with The Women Who Stayed. 

Born and raised in Chicago, Maria graduated from Loyola University Chicago, where she majored in Biology and Psychology, with a minor in Chemistry.  She previously taught Religious Education at her church in Illinois.  Currently, Maria works as a substitute teacher at Notre Dame Academy and interns for two politicians in the city.



4 comments:

  1. This is great. Thank you Maria for your volunteering.

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  2. I love reading the writings on this blog. God bless you.

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