I think about this often as I ask myself who is my neighbor? Are they just the people who live next door to me? Or do I truly try to see everyone that is part of the fabric of our global community as my neighbor. I believe that as we grow older we begin to lose some of the innocence of seeing the image of Christ in everyone we meet. This is a challenge if we profess to be Christians, because to be a Christian means to be the face of Christ and to see the face of Christ in others.
I live on a dead end street that leads into the park. My oldest grandson, who is still innocent and not shy, loves to say hello to people who walk down our block. Over the years he has come to know a few of their names by asking his Papa to ask these strangers “what is your name?” Because of his view of the world that does not fully yet understand the definition of race; he only sees the image of the person walking. I would love for that innocence to remain but in reality I know that there will be some changes.
Years ago, I had the pleasure of knowing a gentleman by the name of Mr.Sadowski. I was an AmeriCorps volunteer that was helping churches to care for the seniors in their parishes. Mr.Sadowski was ninety-nine when we met and his grandchildren where planning for the hope of his one-hundredth birthday. Mr. Sadowski had other things on his mind that he thought were more important than his anticipated birthday.
Mr. Sadowski wanted to share his message of love, peace, joy and the gift of hospitality. He did this through the warm embrace that you received as you walked through his front door and then the offering of whatever food or drinks that he had on hand. After all of the busyness stopped, the storytelling began and the listening was hypnotic. He shared how he had walked across Eastern Europe during World War I as a young boy. He walked in the dead of winter all alone because his family had been killed. His eyes would light up and fill with tears as he remembered the strangers who were kind along the way from Europe and his final destination, America.
His prayer and message to all those he could meet was to, “See the world in all of its diversity as a bouquet of flowers. He would say every flower is beautiful, but when they come together, oh how beautiful.” Mr. Sadowski died shortly after celebrating one-hundred years on this earth. I am both humbled and honored to have known him. His message is one of many; that give me hope, for the difficult times that we are experiencing right now in our nation and world. Thank God for the gifts of faith, hope, and love. Our future can improve, this is the message in the readings today as we need both Mary’s and Martha’s. ‘What this World Needs Now is Love’, is the song that you will hear our children sing today at Mass. The words are not difficult to learn, it is the message that we need to work on. Please join us following Mass for lemonade, cookies and a bouquet of stories.