A Word From Our Pastor

When I was a hospital chaplain, I was paged to visit a patient who was quite ill in the coronary care unit. When I got there, the patient’s family was standing around anxiously awaiting to hear from the doctor about the status of their loved one. I introduced myself to this family, which was from another culture. They looked like they might be from India, Pakistan or Nepal. They thanked me for coming, and politely said they wouldn’t need my services because they had their own prayer ritual that they would use from their religion which was Hinduism. I took that as a way of them asking me to leave; so I wished them well and was turning to leave when the patient’s wife followed after me and said: “But chaplain, we would like it very much if you could join us in our prayer ritual with us!” I was happily surprised that this family wanted to include me, even though my culture, my race, my religion, was totally different from their own. We all held hands and I listened as they prayed some prayers from their tradition and in their own language. I thanked them for including me, and promised I would pray for their loved one in my own tradition. When I later thought about the experience, seeing how much they wanted me to be with them in prayer, I thought about the Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel.  She came from a very different culture and religion from Jesus and His disciples, but she was desperate as a mother.  Her daughter was extremely ill, beset by a demon, and the mother had nobody else to turn to so she sought out Jesus. The disciples of Jesus wanted Him to send her away because she was different from them. But Jesus did not send her away.  He tested her and marveled at her response. Jesus looked beyond her gender and race, and saw into her human heart. Each of us has our own community where we feel comfortable. We refer to them as “our people.” It is often based upon skin color, social class, gender, politics, or nationality. In God’s eyes none of these categories are of ultimate importance. They do not determine whether a person will be saved or not. And so because we are followers of Jesus Christ, these distinctions should not be of great importance to us as well.  We keep experiencing the ugly sins of racial hatred and extreme nationalism raising their vicious heads in our country. The Catholic Church condemns both of these as social sins, contrary to the Gospel and to our Church’s social teaching. The challenge to you and to me is, can we look beyond our own group and marvel at the faith and diversity of others? Always remember that in the mind of God “different” does not mean “deficient.” Why do we think that God created so much diversity in nature? So many beautiful flowers or different colors and shapes; so many interesting animals? Perhaps today or someday God will send a person into our lives just like that Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel, in need of our help and acceptance. Will we recognize the presence of God in that person, or will we send that person away because they are not “our people?”                                   ~ Fr. John

Living the Faith:  "When we pray, God expects that we also be mindful
of those who do not think as we do, those who have slammed the door
in our face, those whom we find it hard to forgive.  Only prayer unlocks
chains, only prayer paves the way to unity."

~ Pope Francis  



Diocese of Manchester

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Diocese of Manchester
The Catholic Church in New Hampshire

153 Ash Street
Manchester, NH 03104-4396

T: (603) 669-3100
F: (603) 669-0377