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The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 9, 2020

 

    Pope Francis came to mind when I read the words of St. Paul in the reading from First Corinthians: “I came to you in weakness and vulnerability…and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of Spirit and power.”  The image that came to my mind as I reflected on those words was of Pope Francis standing before that immense throng gathered in St. Peter’s Square immediately after his election – bowing low before the people, humbly asking for their blessing.  Talk about coming in weakness and vulnerability, in Spirit and in power!

      And the past seven years have been filled with similar moments. Think of the way he visits a prison on Holy Thursday each year in order to wash the feet of men and women inmates; or of the way he has humbly and publicly asked for forgiveness whenever he has been in the wrong or offended someone by something he said or did.  Or think of an interview he gave to the editors of Jesuit publications from around the world. When asked the question, “Who are you?” the first words on his lips were “I am a sinner!”

     But thoughts of Pope Francis didn’t stop with the Letter to the Corinthians. The Pope also came to mind in the gospel reading where Jesus spoke of his disciples being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Which is exactly what Pope Francis is. We all know that, when it comes to food, salt makes the difference between flat and flavorful, and Pope Francis is definitely anything but flat! And the light that shines within him is a bright spot on our world’s too dark horizon.

     Salt and Light.  All of us who are baptized into Jesus Christ are called to be both salt and light.  In a world that can be pretty bland when it comes to holding onto values and keeping commitments, we are called to be salt. In a world that can be pretty dark when it comes to the power of evil, we are called to be light and to shed light.

     We are salt in the world when people recognize that there is something decidedly different about us: that we live our lives with a certain zest, that we aren’t afraid to speak out against the things in our world that are just wrong, or contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are light in the world when Christ the Light shines through us and people see his face in ours.

      This morning I want to say a word about an opportunity we have to express our thanks for some people who have added salt and light to our own lives and the life of the Church. I’m speaking of sisters and priests. Before I do so, however, I want to acknowledge what we all know: that some priests and bishops, through a terrible abuse of their office, have been anything but salt and light. That is a great sadness and a grievous wound on the Body of Christ and the Church must continue to take every possible measure to ensure that none of this ever happens again.

     But this morning I want to say a word about the many hundreds of faithful priests and sisters who have given their lives in service of the Church here in Western Washington. 
This coming week you are going to receive a letter about the Called to Serve as Christ campaign, launched over a year ago to recognize the gift that priests and sisters have been in this archdiocese. The campaign is raising funds to support their retirement and medical needs. Already, in the early phase of the campaign, many of you have made incredibly generous gifts amounting to more than $3 million. Now we’re coming to all of you to give you the opportunity to support this worthy cause. And just to be clear: this is not the Annual Catholic Appeal and it’s not Sacrificial Giving. This is a capital campaign specifically for the retirement and medical needs of the faithful sisters and priests of the Archdiocese. It’s a way of “not turning your back on your own,” as today’s reading from Isaiah put it. So, if your life has been positively impacted by the ministry of sisters and priests over the years (and mine certainly has!), this is an opportunity to say thank you. It’s as simple as that.

        To tell us just a bit more about the impact of the campaign and to invite your participation, I’m going to invite to the pulpit a Sister who labored here in our parish for many years and who just recently moved to Portland to live in her community’s retirement center. Would you please join me in welcoming an amazing woman who has been both salt and light in this parish for more than thirty years: Sister Anne Herkenrath?

Father Michael G. Ryan

 

 

 

 

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804 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, Washington  98104
Phone 206.622.3559  Fax 206.622.5303