Friday, June 16, 2017

Gifts of the Spirit

Dear Friends,

As a Church, we celebrate Corpus Christi today – the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. Paul gave us the earliest account of the institution of the Eucharist – the self-giving of Jesus to all believers under the elements of bread and wine. Paul also was the first to tell us that we are the body of Christ. Many parts, but all one body. So today is a celebration of what we receive and who we are. We belong to Christ’s Body and we belong to each other. There are implications to this belonging. This week, in a veritable blitz of light emanating from citizens of our city who hold many faiths, I heard how permeating the spirit of belonging is in our community. Here are some vignettes about Rochesterians who have come to value belonging, dignity and a chance at life for people in the community that we generally do not see. Can these stories of inspiration be anything less than gifts of the Spirit?

Karen Morris is a judge in Brighton. She is part of a group of law officials and citizens who have put together a system called Ticket2Ride which gives round-trip bus tickets to court-mandated appearances for people who would not otherwise easily get there. While the tickets will be provided, the responsibility for their appointment remains with the individual. A leg up.

Public Defender Tim Danaher has recently been recognized for the work he has done to insure that indigent defendants had lawyers at their first court hearing. He’s also worked for increased resources for indigent defense. Efforts largely unseen by the busy public.

I was part of a group that toured the year-old facility on Mt. Read Blvd. that houses Foodlink. The name has been synonymous with food for those in need since the late 1970s. Now Foodlink manages food intake and distribution in 10 counties from Lake Ontario to Alleghany County. Food trucks go our daily to various locations, so that people can come up to the truck to buy fresh produce and other food items. No soda! Foodlink is part of a national network, but the folks who work there and who staff their new state-of-the-art kitchen are dedicated to insuring that the people who need cooked meals the most get them, especially children. This summer, as in other summers, food will be delivered to various recreation centers and places when children and youth gather.

Then there’s David Beinetti, one of the principals at the architectural firm SWBR. He has a particular passion that people should have dignified affordable housing. Two of SWBR’s recent projects are in the Carriage House on Canal Street and the Wedgepoint Apartments near St. Joseph’s house of Hospitality and ABVI. Both are fully occupied. The surprise in our conversation came when David told me the landscaping department of SWBR designed a kitchen garden for the culinary school at East High, so that students could cook from garden to table. Only then did David and his colleagues discover that the students knew nothing about planting or tending a garden. So he and others are now gracious teachers of gardening as well. Projects like this have unforeseen consequences.

Sister Beth LeValley has reminded me that for the last six years through its Burial Initiative at the Oatka Cemetery and, more recently, at Riverside, the Greater Rochester Community of Churches has laid to rest about 25 people a year who died with no family or resources. The silence of death is broken by the respect of the community of believers.

We place these generous human efforts into the context of the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. We recall that Jesus never asked us to create a tabernacle where He could be contained. Jesus had to be with people wherever they were, whatever needs they brought before him. When he fed them, he fed them generously. When he attended to their deeply human needs, he did so with a tender spirit. He has invited all of us throughout  history, to be generous to those most in need. One body, many parts. The Body of Christ in our day.

~ Sister Joan Sobala

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