June 16, 2019
Yesterday (Wait: Robert, are you saying that you only started working on your Sunday homily yesterday? Um, yes? Listen, it was a busy week, okay? Especially Friday …. Thanks again to everyone who came out for and supported the 2019 Capuchin Walk for the Hungry) Brother Rob Roemer received a call from the downtown convention center, that there was a surplus of box lunches left over from an event. So he took the Saint Ben’s van to the Wisconsin Center and loaded them up.
Every third Saturday of the month at Saint Ben’s we have a social event, and this month was the Knights of Columbus Council #4706’s “movie day,” which alternates with “game day.” Yesterday was movie day. As the guests were lining up to come into the meal hall we opened the van and started handing out the boxes. “Take one and pass it back please … take one and pass it back please … take one and pass it back please” I said as I unloaded the pallet. But the first guy in the line started to gather the boxes in his arms and stack them. So I had to lean around to the next guy with the next box, who passed the box to the guy behind him, who passed it on, who passed it on, usw. This handing-on movement Jesus reveals is of God in John Chapter 16, which is today’s Gospel: “Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you” (v 15).
That God is generous and self-giving is consubstantial with the truth that God is Trinity. Was my brother who was stacking up the boxes taking himself out of God’s Trinitarian movement? I don’t know. I don’t judge him. I am sharing what I saw on a surface level. He could have been storing up boxes to share with other people. And because we are all made in the image and likeness of God, I have to believe that he was making a rational choice. I also know that I in live in and have helped sustain a culture that says loudly and in many forums “I got mine, you get yours,” and that this culture distorts choices.
We don’t analogize the Trinity. We are called to understand the Trinity, God who is three in one, in its own terms. But we serve our understanding, and we serve the mission of the Church, by seeking and seeing expressions of the Trinity in the world, in our lives, and in our ministries. And we build up the reign of God by imitating the Trinity. The movement of the Trinity was best expressed for me by my late Capuchin brother Michael Crosby: three persons, working harmoniously, no one dominating or subjugating the other. Power with and power through, not power over. Michael asked that authority in the Church be formed and used in a Trinitarian mode, and in this – and in other ways – he was prophetic.
Power with and power through: this is how I am to carry out my ministry at Capuchin Community Services. I commit to ask myself two questions whenever the ministry faces a decision point, and I ask you for your patience to sustain this commitment. It is my desire to always discern: did I ask everyone? And: did I tell everyone? Did I ask everyone who is going to be impacted by the choices that the ministry is facing, or by the priorities it has to set, or by the way it must allocate its resources? And did I tell everyone: about the changes, so that the gifts can be shared widely and fairly; and about the new challenges, so that we can respond together; and about the new opportunities, so that we can call forth new gifts? I hope for your support, “… and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom 5: 5, from today’s Second Reading).
There were quite a few boxes left after the movie, so we brought some to Casa Maria, the Catholic Worker community, and took the rest to the tent city, the compound where many of our brothers and sisters afflicted with homelessness are living, under the I-794 overpass. What we could not distribute hand to hand we left on a table set up roughly in the center of the city. May all who come to the table find food that will last.