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I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I went back to my home of Central Pennsylvania and recalled the blessings of my family, both living and deceased, and the good things that were a part of my childhood outside of Harrisburg. I also reflected on the blessings of my priesthood in the diocese there before being named the Bishop of Greensburg in 2015. And now, I count my blessings as a resident in Northeast Ohio and as the Bishop of Cleveland.
Today, as we place ourselves under the sovereignty of Christ, King of the Universe, we recall his admonition to take care of the most vulnerable among us. He makes that a condition for receiving his ultimate blessing, the Kingdom of Heaven.
It is not difficult to understand the Gospel. Take care of the poor! But we must also broaden our understanding of poverty to those who are spiritually poor as well. We must feed the spiritually hungry while never forgetting the physically hungry. We must give some hope to those who are thirsty for justice, as well as offer help to those who are thirsty for water. Strangers must be welcomed, not just those we like and those who are most like us, but all those who are seeking refuge from dangerous lands and extreme poverty. We must clothe every person with the dignity of a child of God, as well as give warm jackets during the winter months to the homeless on our streets. We must seek ways to unchain those who are bound by addiction, as well as tend to the real needs of those who are in our county jails and state and federal prisons.
In short, we must be people who act for the good of others. This is the very definition of love. Love is, in fact, a choice. It is also necessary if we want to be counted among the flock of Christ’s sheep and not the goats who go off to a very bad end.
Why do we take care of those in need? Because they are where Christ promises to be. As he said, “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
As we come to the end of this liturgical year and look forward toward the beginning of Advent next Sunday, let us reflect on the Gospel of life we have heard over the past year. What we have received as life in the Spirit, we must strive to give as members of a flock that exists under the lordship of Christ, King of the Universe, and king of every one of our lives.
Have a blessed week everyone.