Joyful in Hope

“Rejoice in Hope, Endure in Affliction, Preserve in Prayer.” 
– Romans 12:12

Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.
– 1 Corinthians 10:31

My Dear Friends in Christ,

Leprosy was not simply an illness. It was a life sentence handed down to protect the health of the community from a dreaded contagion. Lepers were victims of far more than the disease itself. The disease robbed them of their health, and the resulting sentence imposed, robbed them of their humanity. They had no name, occupation, habits, family, fellowship, or worshiping community. They were reduced to their disease and their existence reduced to keep it from spreading. Other illnesses had to be healed, but leprosy had to be cleansed. To ensure against contact with society, lepers were required to make their appearance as repugnant as possible.

The offense of the leper’s action, then is immediately apparent. Rather than standing off at a distance, the leper approaches and compromises Jesus’ ritual cleanliness. The leper risks everything, breaking both law and custom, on the chance of being healed and restored by Jesus. No obstacle, not even the decrees of the Torah itself, prevents him from coming to Jesus. His obsequious approach and posture, begging Jesus on his knees, “ ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’ ” Such a cry betrays his long, humiliating suffering of his affliction but also contains the beginnings of faith that Jesus can save him.The leper does not question Jesus’ ability to save, only His willingness. The leper’s longing is profoundly human; we don’t question God’s ability. We only doubt God’s willingness to work a miracle for us.

Surprisingly, the response of Jesus is no less scandalous than the leper’s audacity. In the face of such an intrusion, the observant Jew should recoil in protection and defense. With Jesus, though, compassion replaces contempt. Rather than turning from the leper, Jesus turns to him; indeed, he touches him, bringing himself into full contact with physical and ritual untouchability. The outstretched arm of Jesus is a long reach for his day… and for ours. It removes the social, physical, and spiritual separations prescribed by the Torah and custom alike. The touch of Jesus speaks more loudly than his words; and the words of Jesus touch the leper more deeply than any act of human love. Jesus is not only able but desirous: “ ‘I am willing,’ ” he says, “ ‘be clean.’ ” Unlike an ordinary rabbi, Jesus is not polluted by the leper’s disease; rather, the leper is cleansed and healed by Jesus’ contagious holiness.

And this is a great image for us as we celebrate the opportunity to spread the holiness of Christ that Jesus showed to the leper. In just a moment, you’re going to see how we can participate in the Annual Appeal for Catholic Ministries. Like leprosy, poverty, injustice, and ignorance can beat a person down and wear him or her out. These can batter a person over and over again, making it difficult not only to take care of one’s family but also to have hope for the future.

Through the Annual Appeal, we can share in the efforts of Jesus to reach out in so many areas. The Annual Appeal helps us to proclaim the Gospel of Life and uphold the dignity of each and every human life, including and especially those thought by others to be unworthy. The Appeal does this by funding our Respect Life Office, the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, Special Education & Inclusion Programs, camps for those with special needs, ministry to those with disabilities, and those facing life challenging pregnancies before and after birth through Crisis Pregnancy Centers and Maternity Homes.

The Annual Appeal also provides care and services to our neighbors in need through Catholic Charities, the largest provider of care in the state save for the Federal Government. More, St. Vincent de Paul, Prison Ministry, Black Catholic Ministries, Hispanic Ministries, and Apostleship of the Sea also provide of community and faith-based services to people suffering from the effects of hunger, homelessness, and poverty in the Archdiocese, including right here in our own pastorate.

The Annual Appeal also provides programs for our young people in areas such as vocations, retreats, faith formation, Youth Ministry and College Campus Ministry. The Annual Appeal also funds tuition assistance for our Catholic Schools, including those here in our region. Beyond these programs featured on the young, the Annual Appeal also funds the Offices of Pastoral Planning and of Evangelization, both of which serve as important resources for us and for other parishes.

The Annual appeal also provides much needed funds for our clergy, including hospital Chaplains, retired priests, and priests needing special attention. The Annual Appeal assists with priest wellness, helping cover the costs of a priest’s medical leave or educational leave to pursue advanced studies. These gifts help to ensure that those of us serving in parishes and schools can be cared for even in times of uncertainty. (As I was when I had my emergency surgery just before coming to Holy Family in 2010). In addition to all of that, a portion of Appeal funds is forwarded to the Holy See to serve the mission and future of the universal Church as our Holy Father envisions them.

Please take a moment to watch this video that helps explain the Appeal and the many ways we can help spread the love and concern of Jesus Christ for those in need. And take some time to learn about the Appeal here.

And when you give to the Annual Appeal through our Pastorate, you will also be helping the Frederick Area Family Shelter for the Homeless. As you may know, there are several shelters in our area to help the homeless. They cannot, however, house families together resulting in homeless families being separated if they need accommodations. There is a family shelter for Frederick County but it’s currently operating out of church halls and basements. They have recently purchased a large, abandoned building that they are going to rehab to serve as a family shelter able to accommodate the whole family together. While they are staying at the shelter, families can work on what they need to do to get back on their feet. The pandemic has revealed a number of fissures in our economy and we are seeing more and more people and families suffering from the difficult economy right here in our own area. part of every dollar that you give comes back to us and we are earmarking it for our outreach efforts right here in our area.

Thanks for taking the time to be part of this campaign. It’s important for us as a pastorate community to participate and I ask every household to share in this endeavor to follow the example of Christ in our Gospel today. I know some of you have reservations about giving to the Archdiocese. The money raised through this campaign does not go to the general budget but goes directly to help the causes I’ve listed. As disciples of Jesus Christ, these are necessary areas that demand your attention and deserve your help. I myself give to the Appeal every year because I know the great, good work that is done through the funds raised. I, for one, am very grateful for the easier opportunity to give online this year because I often forget requiring the Archdiocese to send reminder after reminder.

Again, I ask each member of our pastorate to make a gift, no matter the size. Every gift, no matter how large or how small, helps us to serve our sisters and brothers in need. May God bless you always for your generosity.

Peace,

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