Bishop’s Ministry Appeal
This Sunday we are invited to make a gift to the Bishop for his work and to support the work of our Diocese. It is Bishop’s Ministry Appeal Sunday.
The Scriptures today speak mainly about leprosy. Leviticus is very clear: anyone with the highly contagious and incurable disease of leprosy had to “dwell apart” and could not touch or be touched by anyone. To be separated, abandoned, by every other human person—to be utterly deprived of the warmth of human touch—is the worst kind of poverty. So in the Gospel, Jesus touches the man you’re not supposed to touch. “Moved with compassion” (Jesus felt the pain this man felt) “Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him.” He restored the man’s dignity by touching him, by showing him understanding love.
The Mission of Healing
Why will many of us make financial gifts to the Bishop’s Appeal this Sunday? It is so that Jesus can touch the untouchables through the work of the Church. The BMA provides for things like the sisters, who bring the human touch of compassion to nearby migrant labor camps; it subsidizes poorer Catholic schools like St. George’s in South Stockton for children who could never afford a quality education; it funds the training of new priests who otherwise would not be able to afford the eight years of seminary. It provides for sisters and priests who will lay a healing hand on a modern-day leper, such as a poor immigrant family, or a forgotten grandmother in a nursing home, or a young man in one of our prisons.
Help the Church do her mission of healing
Jesus healed people. Only the Church can heal our national ills. Only the Church can fully safeguard the dignity of every human person in America. We cannot look to the Government to do this. A few years ago, someone asked President Obama when he thought human life began. He famously quipped that it was “above his pay grade.” He was absolutely right: it is not the government’s role or competency to address issues of theology, philosophy, or the deeper questions of the human person. This is the role and competency of the churches, those who train their minds on broader horizons than the government. A healthy America needs her churches, and needs a government that guarantees those churches the freedom to do what they do best. The government cannot possibly “touch” individuals with the warmth of a Mother Teresa; it cannot provide the human care that small faith-based groups regularly provide to the homeless, the incarcerated, the elderly.
Your annual gift to the BMA, like your weekly gift to the parish, provides for this good work. 25 years ago, folks like you and I gave to the Bishop’s Ministry Appeal, and that’s how I was able to become a priest. I give to the BMA every year if for nothing else than to give something back for my seminary education, and to help pay for another young man’s seminary training. Let’s all give something, simply because our Bishop has asked us for help, for the good of our Church, for the good of our country.