Find the Face of Christ in your neighbor

This past weekend our diocese began its 73rd annual Catholic Charities Appeal, using as its theme “Find the Face of Christ in Your Neighbor,” which was drawn from a Dec. 26, 2013 comment by Pope Francis, in which he said, “In the poor and outcast, we see Christ’s Face; by loving and helping the poor, we love and serve Christ.”

Jesus told the righteous who will be welcomed into His Kingdom, “For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, a stranger and you welcomed Me, naked and you clothed Me, ill and you cared for Me, in prison and you visited Me” (Mt 25:35-36). 

Through the agencies funded by the Catholic Charities Appeal, the hungry, thirsty and naked of our diocese are given food, drink and clothing (to adapt the old adage, they are given a fish to eat and are themselves taught how to fish), strangers are welcomed into our community, and the ill and imprisoned are visited. Since we cannot all personally feed, clothe, welcome and visit each person in need, these charitable agencies of our diocese act as our hands, reaching out with an embrace of love to the various forms that Christ takes in our region.

Bishop George W. Coleman has gone around our diocese in recent weeks, encouraging our participation in the Catholic Charities Appeal. He has thanked us for our generosity and reminded us of the connection between what we do with our wallets and what we do “on our knees.” He said in Attleboro, “It’s due to the prayers and generosity of the people of the Diocese of Fall River that we’ve been able to serve a good number of those in need.”

In a letter to everyone in the diocese, Bishop Coleman said, “No matter how large or small our contribution may be, we can, with this one gesture, live our faith by helping others experience the same love of God that has blessed our lives.”

Pope Francis, in his message for this year’s World Day of the Sick, said something which should encourage us in our prayer and our giving to the Catholic Charities Appeal during this month dedicated to Mary. “To grow in tender love, and a respectful and sensitive charity, we have a sure Christian model to contemplate: Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, who is always attentive to the voice of God and the needs and troubles of her children. Mary, impelled by God’s mercy which took flesh within her, selflessly hastened from Galilee to Judea to find and help her kinswoman Elizabeth. She interceded with her Son at the wedding feast of Cana when she saw that there was a shortage of wine. She is the Mother of the crucified and Risen Christ: she stands beside our crosses and she accompanies us on the journey towards the resurrection and the fullness of life. St. John, the disciple who stood with Mary beneath the cross, brings us to the sources of faith and charity, to the heart of the God Who ‘is love’ (1 Jn 4:8,16). He reminds us that we cannot love God if we do not love our brothers and sisters. Those who stand with Mary beneath the cross learn to love as Jesus does.”  

May Mary guide us in our generous giving to the Catholic Charities Appeal.

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