Third Sunday of Easter
April 30, 2017
Click here to listen to this
homily! (mp4 file)
The beautiful gospel story of the Road to Emmaus is a favorite of mine and
perhaps of yours. I love its pensive quality -- the calm, reflective way in
which Luke tells us the journey of those two downhearted disciples who
walked with Jesus along the road not knowing it was Jesus.
Luke tells us that Emmaus is a village some seven
miles from Jerusalem but I find it interesting that, even though it appears
on nearly every pilgrim map of the Holy Land, many scholars are not
convinced that the real Emmaus has ever been found. For that reason,
we can think of Emmaus as representing every place -- not just one place --
and of the road to Emmaus as every road we travel. Isn’t it wonderful to
think that no matter what road it is we travel in life, Jesus is our
companion? Even if we don’t always recognize him, he’s no less a
companion for that.
And along the road come dark and difficult days as
we, much like those two disciples of old, find ourselves short on hope and
maybe even lost in sadness because Jesus seems to be absent. But the Emmaus
story tells us that if we hold on during the dark times and invite him to
stay with us, he will. And not only will he stay with us, he will open
our eyes and make himself known to us in the Breaking of the Bread.
My friends, this opening up of minds and hearts
takes place here week after week when we gather in this holy place where
Jesus makes himself known to us in the scriptures proclaimed, in the Bread
that is broken, and in one another. How blessed we are to have a wonderful
parish like this. How blessed we are not to be alone on the road of life,
the road to Emmaus.
But this parish is not an island. Far from
it. It is part of the Archdiocese of Seattle, a large network of parishes,
communities, ministries, and services, each of them, in one way or another,
helping people to meet Christ along the road of life and to come to know him
and love him. This morning/evening we are asked to think about that larger
Church and how we can support it through the Annual Catholic Appeal.
I hope I didn’t just give you liturgical whiplash!
Not my intention! The Annual Catholic Appeal really is about the journey of
faith and about helping people meet Christ along that journey. Let me
remind you of a few of the ways you help people meet Christ by your generous
gift to the Annual Catholic Appeal.
Your Annual Appeal contribution supports the
ministry of Archbishop Sartain, the education of our seminarians, the
ongoing formation of lay leaders and lay catechists, our extensive network
of Catholic grade and high schools (the 6th largest in the State), our CYO
Camps and athletic programs for our kids. It also supports the great work of
Catholic Community Services - its housing for the elderly, the poor, the
disabled, veterans, migrant workers and their families; its shelters for
homeless men and women; its pregnancy support and adoption services.
These are things you know well. You know, too, that
each year the Archdiocese sets an Annual Appeal goal for the entire
Archdiocese and one for each parish. The overall goal this year for
the Archdiocese is $11.7 million. Our parish’s share of that - our goal - is
$365,209, a huge sum of money, for sure!
So, the only way we can possibly meet our goal is
if the more financially able among us step forward and give even more
generously than in the past. This is what you’ve always done and I have
confidence that you will do it again this year. Did you know that, thanks to
you, our parish leads all the other parishes of the archdiocese in giving to
the Annual Appeal!
And let me remind you that everything you
give over and above our $365,000 goal will come directly back to us as a
rebate. And I know you won’t be surprised when I remind you that we
need the rebate and how your generosity makes it possible for us to count on
a significant rebate when we do our budgeting.
Let me conclude by sharing with you why
we especially need the rebate this year. We will use the rebate this year to
support our St. James Immigrant Assistance Program — which in these
challenging times for immigrants and refugees is more important than ever
before. To tell you why, I’ve invited one of the program staff
members, Caroline Okello. Please join me in welcoming Caroline.
Father Michael G. Ryan
you, Father Ryan. I am an immigrant and, like all immigrants, it was the
zeal to stay alive that made me an immigrant. When I started a family, I
never envisioned being separated from my children - over 8,000 miles away
from them - for over 8 years now. It is very painful!
Before relocating to the United States, I first fled from my homeland of
Kenya to Kigali, Rwanda for about a year. With very few choices, I did all I
could to stay alive and safe before I could save my children, and that
included making quick and difficult decisions. The most painful one was to
leave behind my 12 year old daughter with my aging mother, in the village.
Even though I found safety in the US, I had many fears; fear about
starting fresh in a country where I knew no one; fear that I would never see
my children and family again; fear that my application to stay here might be
denied and I would be sent back to the country I was fleeing from worse off
than before. Fear and stress became a constant part of my life.
By God’s grace and mercy, I was granted authorization to stay, but only
my youngest child was allowed to join me, and that was after two very
painful years. But I counted my blessings; it could have been worse.
Fast forward to Christmas Eve of 2015. Since the Christmas Eve mass here
at St. James is very popular, my daughter and I came early, and that gave me
time to go through the fliers in the pews. One flyer caught my eyes; it was
about the St. James Immigrant Assistance program and becoming a citizen. I
think of it as a Christmas blessing, because my eligibility to apply for
citizenship was fast approaching and I had no clue where to start. I
made the call to St. James Immigrant Assistance as soon as I could.
They connected me to their legal services for support with my application
and assigned a volunteer tutor to help me prepare for the citizenship test.
I don’t know about you but for me, tests always make me nervous and anxious,
but this time it was different. Just having someone there with me gave me
all the confidence I needed for my interview. I excelled! And I became an
American citizen on September 7th, 2016.
Now it is my privilege to work in the Immigrant Assistance Program
myself, and to help others who are new to this country. It is very humbling
to see how the staff and volunteers of St. James Immigrant Assistance are so
selfless in their service to immigrants and refugees. It is your support
that makes all of this possible. Thanks to them and to all of you for this
amazing program. God bless you all!