"I came that they may have life, and have it fully."

02-17-2019From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Our parish honored several religious sisters at last Sunday's 11 AM Mass. Their good work is a blessing to many people in our community. Sister Clare, SJH, teaches a "make up" class in our CCD program – where she gets children who did not receive First Communion at the usual time ready for that Blessed Sacrament. Sr. Ellen, SJH, and Sr. Megan, SJH, both teach religion in our parish school. Sr. Michaelita, RSM -- who once was principal of our parish elementary school, now runs the local Catholic Charities, and helps many local families by her work.

Students from our parish school and CCD program presented the sisters with flowers, as the assembly at Mass gave them a grateful ovation. It was especially inspiring to me to see so many of our people stop to say a word of thanks to the sisters after Mass that day.

After Mass, I had occasion to speak with Sr. Michaelita about some of the homeless people in our community. The topic held a special relevance, as the newspaper that morning had an article about homeless people who have died in the recent cold. At least one of them was well-known to many of us, since he often spent nights in our Church (with my permission).

Many of you know that I often allow homeless people to spend the night in our Church, and they have never been a problem. But that is far from a perfect solution to the problem. Our parish participates in the Interfaith Hospitality Network, which provides temporary housing for families who become homeless. I am thankful for those of you who support this effort, and encourage others to join their good efforts. The recent Blessing in a Bag collection was another effort by good-hearted parishioners to help the homeless in our area. Once again, I am thankful to all who lent a hand.

While I am well aware that no one of us can serve the needs of every homeless person in our community, it is important that we all do our part. Jesus said that He came that all people might have "life, and have it to the full." While He was no doubt speaking also about the Eternal Life in Heaven that only He can give, He clearly did his part to help people live a full life here on earth. His healing miracles helped people live a fuller life, and His teaching that His disciples help the poor in His Name shows that He wants us to help people have and enjoy the life He gave them here on earth.

Sadly, the recent news has been full of things that are directly opposed to helping people live life fully. The first was the new abortion law in New York State, which allows abortions to be performed literally until the moment the child is to be born – and even permits an abortionist to deny lifesaving treatment to a baby born in a "botched"

The next is the fact that an increasing number of representatives in our own New Jersey State Legislature are supporting an Assisted Suicide Bill. I have written – and included inserts in our bulletin – about this before. States where this has passed have seen situations where insurance companies were willing to pay for low cost suicide drugs – but not life-saving treatments.

All three of these issues demand better, more life-giving answers. As Christians, we have to offer the homeless, expectant mothers, and long-suffering sick people better options than death – regardless of what form it takes. Please spend some time thinking and praying about this, and doing what you can to help all the people in our world live life – and live it fully.

On this weekend, when our country honors George Washington – whose work gave life to the modern world's first democracy – and Abraham Lincoln – who made sure that all of its members were free to live life fully – let's be sure to do our part, too.

Please say a Hail Mary for me today, and every day. Please also pray for the local poor and homeless, and anyone whose ability to live life fully is in danger.

Have a great week!
Fr. John