On Tuesday of this week, the local AARP chapter which meets at the Lakeview Presbyterian Church where I go to lunch five days a week, hosted a Salvation Army Holiday Musical festival after lunch. Four Salvation Army Officers made up the familiar brass band I’ve and I expect you as well, have often seen on the street corners and malls at this time of the year, playing Christmas music and entertaining holiday shoppers. This day they entertained two dozen seniors in the Presbyterian Church sanctuary. It was beautiful and uplifting.
That experience made me wonder more about the Army, so I looked them up on YouTube where I watched a three-minute video. They were founded by a married couple, Catherine and William Booth in London 1865. This year, according to the video, they will serve 30 million people in the United States alone. Their centers are located in poor and crime infested areas where few of us are willing to serve. They have a worldwide membership of 1.7 million and are assisted in their work by 3.4 million volunteers. Wow!
I’m meeting with some young graduate students (I’m 74) today who have asked me to present a dream I’ve been talking about ever since I retired twelve years ago: affordable housing that welcomes people of all classes, young and old, rich and poor, churched and unchurched… I sometimes ask myself, why I do such crazy things. I can’t solve the homeless problem in my city of Chicago, let alone provide for the homeless people I see at my local McDonald’s. I even sometimes wonder where I am going to get the resources, I need to meet my own needs. That’s probably how the first followers of Jesus felt when he sent them out as we read in today’s gospel selection.
Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus,
“Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.|
As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse lepers drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” (MT 9 & 10)
I pray today to hear the calls of the needy all around me and to respond with the same faith and trust that those first apostles, Catherine and William Booth, and St. Paul of the Cross did, and their followers continue to do in our world.
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.