Saturday, April 16, 2011

7th Sunday of Ordinary Time

One of the many jobs I do at St Michael’s is teaching the Baptismal preparation class for parents that want to baptize their babies. Most of the time I start my classes with the same question “Why do you want to baptize your baby?” and most of the time couples have a really hard time articulating goods reasons for this decision. I get a lot of “Because is important” or “Because that is what Catholics do”. Every once in a while I get a couple or a parent who remembers their Catechism respond “Because I want to remove the stain of original sin from my baby”. The most common answer I get is “Because I want my baby to become a child of God”, which for them it means that they want their baby to experience the salvation promised by Jesus through the waters of Baptism. However what these parents do not realize at the moment is that becoming a child of God has another deeper meaning. It means that by the waters of Baptism their little babies become part of a bigger, much bigger family; a family which expands through out the world and across time all the way back to the apostles and martyrs.
Of course I do not expect everyone to go through life thinking about this great extended family we all belong to. In fact I’m willing to bet most of us never do. But what I find interesting, what amazes me about the Church and especially this parish is that although hardly ever we think of ourselves as a family, never the less, most of the time we behave as one!
I can not tell you how many times I have heard people say that here at St Michael’s they feel welcomed or how many times they have commented to me about how friendly people are in our parish. But it is not only in the friendliness of this parish were I see us as a family, it is in the times in which we all get together and bring our skills, what Ftr. Mike likes to calls our time and treasure to accomplish what needs to be done, without expecting a reward. There are not better examples of this than the Grace under fire capita campaign we just concluded, and the way people pour their time and efforts to make the Hoe Down a success year after year. My brothers and sisters I thank God for the great privilege of been not only your deacon but a member of this great family of ours.
However (and there is always a however) we should remember that our family is not just the people that gather with us every Sunday to worship God. Like I mentioned before our family extends beyond the geographical area of our parish. In the same way we are members of the St Michael’s family because of the waters of baptism we are also members of the family that is the Archdiocese of Baltimore, lead by Archbishop Bishop Edwin O’Brian. And in the same way our St Michael’s family needed us when the roof in the machine room leaks or the HVAC system is about to die, our Archdiocese family needs our help. Next weekend marks the beginning Archbishop O’Brian annual appeal, and the weekend after that it will be the follow-up weekend. My appeal to you today is for you to think about our extended family in the archdiocese. The money collected in this yearly appeal will be used to fund Catholic schools, religious education and vacation bible schools. Contributions help to underwrite the archdiocese office of Youth and Young Adult ministry, and fund outreach and evangelization through the office of Hispanic ministry and international support to Haiti, as well as more than 80 charities which compose the Catholic Charities organization. And if you think that we will never see the products of these annual campaign, I want to let you know that me and Deacon Cliff are products of your good will and generous contributions, since in the 4 years of our education to become deacons we only had to pay for our books, everything else was defrayed by the archdiocese.
Now I know how many of you have sacrificed of your treasure to make the Grace Under Fire and the upcoming Hoe Down a success this year, specially in these hard economic times. But I ask you to look upon your heart and think on our greater family and that in prayerful consideration you open your heart to the appeal of our Bishop to help our Archdiocese continue to serve those members of our church family that need help are less fortunate than us. God Bless you.