|The beggar Lazarus at the door of the rich man.|
I'm back from Trujillo, Honduras and settled in to my summer ministry here at St. Peter the Fisherman in Eagle River, WI. While I'm back I must also say that there is a special place in mu heart for Trujillo, the people there and the wonderful missionaries from Christ the King Parish in Little Rock. I'm proud to be part of this wonderful team.
What message do I bring back from Honduras? My thoughts go to a parable found in Luke's Gospel, chapter 16:19-31. It is the story of the poor man Lazarus who is outside the door of a rich man's house. The sin of the rich man is not his wealth. His sin is the lack of awareness that the poor man is there. Having served three years in Bolivia and having visited Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Jamaica and now Honduras I can verify the claim that 75-80% of the world lives more like the people in those countries than like we do in the US, Western Europe and a few other places on this planet of ours. Are we aware of that fact? This question is not just mine. It was raised by Pope John Paul II in his homily at Yankee Stadium in 1978, using the same Gospel parable.
In raising this question I am NOT trying to evoke guilt in anyone for being American or wealthy, etc. Likewise I am not simplistically assigning blame to anyone because there is plenty of blame to hand out not only to wealthy nations and corporations but also to corruption within the poorer countries. What I am suggesting is that by becoming more aware of the situation we begin to commit ourselves to finding the solution. Some might be thinking that there is no solution or that it is too idealistic to think that way. To some extent such criticism is valid. On this side of the Second Coming we are not going to solve all of the world's ills and injustices, but we must try. We must strive to create a more just world. Our faith (and not just politics) demands that of us. The goal I have in mind is not some sort of socialist utopia (which really can never exist) where everyone has the same but rather a world in which everyone has access to all of the resources that the Creator has given us. For example, some of you know that a few weeks ago I took a bad fall and ended up in the emergency room in St. Petersburg. I was well cared for in a state of the art, highly computerized emergency facility and am just about fully recovered from my injuries. While in Honduras with dedicated doctors and surgeons from Little Rock who gave their best to the people in Trujillo the conditions at the hospital there were sub-standard even compared to some of the poorest facilities here in the US. I considered myself blessed to have received the treatment I did but wondered why there can't be such facilities in Honduras and other places.
Another faith dimension of this issue is the fact that as Catholics we believe that as Church we are the body of Christ in the world. This faith belief unites us to all members of the Body as brothers and sisters in Christ. Even beyond actual Church membership we are united to the entire human community as children of the same Creator. The goal and the task is a daunting one, but let's begin by at least being aware of the many beggars at the gate.
Below are two pictures taken from a Mass I celebrated at a prison facility in Trujillo. The conditions there were deplorable, but there was also genuine faith in many of the inmates. They are part of the Body of Christ as well.
I am looking to return to Trujillo again next year. Together with the medical and other missionaries from Little Rock we have much to bring to the people there and they have so much to teach to us.