by Sister Elise Cholewinski
A woman sat in my office, explaining how she and her friend had become mentors for two high school girls who were mentally disabled. The girls came from a sad home situation, and although they attended the special needs religious education program in our parish, they did not live in our town and their family was not affiliated with any parish. They had gone to Mass a few times with these women, and now they wanted to receive their First Holy Communion. Would I prepare them? My first thought was, "Why me?" I found myself feeling angry about their dysfunctional family and the disregard for the girls' spiritual development. How could people be seemingly so dead in their faith? I rather reluctantly agreed to prepare the two girls for the reception of the Eucharist.
In this Sunday's Gospel Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan, who cared so lovingly for the man who had been beaten up by robbers and left lying half-dead. The priest and the Levite had passed him by, not because they were selfish or indifferent, but because they were on their way to the Temple in Jerusalem, to offer worship to God. If they touched a dead person, they would be unclean and therefore unfit for worship, and because they didn't know if the man was dead or alive, they dared not touch him. Jesus makes a point of telling that in coming to the aid of the injured man, the Samaritan poured oil and wine over his wounds. These were elements used in worship. The Samaritan was truly worshiping God by tending to the half-dead person.
The two young ladies received their First Holy Communion at a Friday morning Mass a few weeks ago. No one from their family was present. I walked up the aisle with them, as they offered the bread and wine to the priest, and in my heart I knew that the real gift I had offered to God was my willingness to teach the girls, from a family that was apparently "half-dead," about Jesus and His gift of the Eucharist. How often we are called to our most "touching" ministry outside of our ministry. On that day I knew that the faith was very much alive in the hearts of these two precious girls. Once again I asked the question, "Why me?"
chapter 23, US Catholic Catechism for Adults
Throughout our lives we are faced with making moral choices - to do 'what is good and avoid evil.' The Ten Commandments are a divine invitation to grow in authentic freedom and shape our lives in accordance with God's plan for humanity. They teach us the love of God above all things and loving service of our neighbor. The first three commandments concern love and fidelity to God, while the other seven speak of love and forgiveness of neighbor as an expression of God's love. God's grace helps us to live out these commandments.
We are all made in the image and likeness of God and are invited to enjoy equal dignity as children of God. During the past century, the Church has articulated a systematic body of moral teachings on social issues offered to us as a guide for personal morality and a means to evaluate just or unjust social structures. Social justice can be obtained only in respecting the transcendent dignity of every human person. Jesus spoke against unjust practices and showed compassion and concern for the poor and the outcast. Jesus taught us the value of each human life.
-- edited by Sister Lynne Marie
from the Study Guide for the U.S. Adult Catholic Catechism (p. 64-69)