26th Sunday Ordinary Time
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: September 26, 2021
“If you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the church door, you will not find him in the chalice.” St. John Chrysostom
This is a very challenging quote for us as disciples of Jesus.
Recently I was visiting a parishioner who has cancer, to bring her communion. After a discussion I took out my pyx with Holy Communion in it and placed it on the table before us. She jokingly said, “it is a good thing that Jesus does not have a choice where he is brought.” She was being humble to imply that she is not worthy to have Jesus in her home.
Well it is an incredible mystery that Jesus wants to come to us, wants to enter our homes and our hearts. Jesus left us this great Sacrament of Holy Communion in order to come to us in a way we can see and receive. Jesus depends on this messy church, with us messy Christians, to bring him to others.
Unfortunately sometimes we are an obstacle to Jesus coming to others. Sometimes we want to judge who is worthy and who is not. At times we keep people away from Jesus because of how we speak or treat others. Jesus warns us not to put a stumbling block before one of these little ones.
As a priest, it is important to examine myself that I do not put a stumbling block before anyone. As a Catholic parish, we need to examine that we never put up any stumbling blocks to anyone. How do we receive visitors or strangers coming to our parish on Sunday?
We see Jesus teaching the disciples and John asks him about someone casting out demons in his name. But, they were not part of their group. So, he asked Jesus if he should stop them. At times we want to keep God to ourselves. My group, my church, my denomination.
For centuries Catholics and Protestants fought with each other. In our world today we see extremists in most religions who attack followers of other religions. Why do we think that God is under our control? That God can only work within our group? That God is unable to work outside of our church?
Jesus says, “whoever is not against us is for us.” God is at work in our world beyond our group, beyond our church. God is at work in our world today. God is wherever work for peace is happening, wherever care for creation is happening, wherever efforts to heal hurts within families and between peoples is happening. God is wherever people are caring for the poor, wherever people are trying to overcome divisions.
We as disciples of Jesus can join any other Christians who are working on these things, we can join people of any other religions who are doing these things, even with atheists who are doing these things. Wherever people are working for peace, to care for creation, to bring healing, to care for the poor, to overcome divisions, God is at work there. We should join in that work, since that is where we will find Jesus.
If we cannot find Christ present in the poor, in the refugees, in those different from us. We will not find Christ in the Church. If we cannot join Christ at work in the world with other Christians, with people of other religions, even with non-believers, then we will end up not joining Christ at work in the world.
We will either be a stumbling block to others or we will be an instrument that allows Christ to come to others.