Monday of the third week of Lent, 2023

    March 13, 2023

    Two thoughts jump quickly to my mind from today’s gospel.

    The first is how hard it is to tell someone news they don’t want to hear. Even Jesus knew what it was like to be blamed for a message no one wanted to hear. While “Don’t shoot the messenger” was an expression unfamiliar to Jesus’ audience, it aptly describes their reaction on hearing that God blessed a foreigner like Naaman while so many of God’s chosen people hadn’t been cured of their illnesses.

    We may have experienced a similarly aggressive and angry response from a needy client when we told them that we didn’t have the resources available to help with their problem. But just as Jesus absorbed their bitterness and moved on to the next town to continue his ministry, so must we refer our client to an agency that might be able to help them, then move on to the next challenge, hoping for a better result.

    The second thought that captured my imagination is Jesus’ message that God did not just send help to Israelites but also to Naaman the Syrian and the widow in Sidon. The people of Nazareth were jealous that Jesus was including other nationalities in the saving love of God. It was a message of God’s favor resting on all believers.

    On occasion I find myself addressing a secular group of uninitiated potential donors or volunteers. One of the first things I try to establish is that, even though our first name is “Catholic,” being a Catholic is not a requirement to receive our help. I always say with great pride that we help all who knock at our door. We evangelize by showing the face of a loving God to all those we serve.

    I consider myself blessed to be part of a Catholic Charities community which acknowledges that people of all ethnicities and stations in life are worthy of God’s saving love.

    Jim Wogan is a retired Volunteer Coordinator for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago in Lake County and current volunteer director of the Christmas Gift Program.

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