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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Sept. 1, 2013

By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service

Cycle C. Readings:

1) Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29

Psalm: 68:4-7, 10-11

2) Hebrews 12:18-19; 22-24a

Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-14

In his 1982 book "Miracles in El Paso," French theologian Father Rene Laurentin documents many of the stories of a prayer group's ministries with the poor who scavenged recyclable trash at a dump in Juarez, Mexico, beginning in the 1970s.

The desire to work with these poor families, who not only scavenged items from the Juarez city dump but also lived on its grounds, grew out of a simple question asked by Father Rick Thomas, the Jesuit priest who led the group. He looked at the last few verses of today's Scripture from Luke in which Jesus admonishes his listeners, "When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind."

"When have we ever," Father Rick is reported to have asked, "been obedient to the simple request Jesus makes of us in this Scripture?"

So he and his small band of believers put together a meal to carry to the garbage dump to share with the families who worked there on Christmas Day.

There were flour tortillas, meat to roll up in them -- and one notable ham.

One of those who went to the dump was a postman, Frank Alarcon. He sat on the tailgate of a pickup truck and watched as the many people being served approached to get food. He watched as the woman slicing the ham sliced and sliced and sliced without the ham seeming to grow any smaller. As people continued to pour past the table, the ham lasted until all who had come to their little feast had eaten their fill.

Stories like this followed the work of the prayer group wherever they served. Many ministries and enterprises emerged from that initial action, including a food co-op, health care ministries and on and on.

But all of it began with the group's simple obedience to a Scripture through which Jesus asked them to throw what Father Rick Thomas termed "a little party for the poor."


Have you ever seen the power of obedience to the messages of Scripture yield unexpectedly positive results?


"When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind." -- Luke 14:13


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