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Evangelization means getting hands dirty

By Paul Paproski, OSB


MUENSTER, Sask. — North Americans are generous in giving to charities and supporting programs that help the poor, but they have become disconnected with people, Rev. Gregory Hrynkiw of Saskatoon said at the annual Ukrainian Catholic clergy retreat of the Eparchy of Saskatoon.

It is good to be concerned about the less fortunate, he said June 11 at St. Peter’s Abbey. However, Christians must become involved with their community and build solidarity with others.

“We like to do our charity at a distance, but that is not what evangelization is about. Evangelization is a messy word because we are dealing with people. Evangelization requires of us to get our hands dirty. It requires that we invest our own resources for others,” he commented.

The theme of the retreat June 9-12 was lectio divina (spiritual or divine reading) which is a practice of finding identity in God’s word through reading, meditation and contemplation. These facets of divine reading help steer a person toward discernment, involvement and mature decision-making, he said.

Speaking on the theme of involvement, Hrynkiw said it is important to know and understand our faith, but that is not enough. It is essential to turn faith into action.

Citing the example of the parable of the rich official (Luke 18:18), Hrynkiw explained that Jesus was asked by a rich man how to inherit eternal life. Jesus explained the importance of following the commandments, and the man said he observed them. Jesus told him to go further and sell his possessions and give the money to the poor and then come and follow him. The rich man was very sad because he had many possessions.

In another parable a lawyer asked Jesus about inheriting eternal life. Jesus told him to love God with all his heart and his neighbour as himself (Luke 10:25). The lawyer inquired about who is neighbour was and Jesus answered with the parable of the Good Samaritan which identifies a neighbour as someone who shows mercy (Luke 10:29).

The parable of the Good Samaritan speaks of a traveller who had been beaten and robbed. The victim’s life was saved when a Samaritan took him to an inn and paid the innkeeper to take care of him. The suffering traveller was ignored by a priest and Levite who, when seeing him, passed by on the other side of the road. Jesus told the lawyer to be like the Good Samaritan.

The Good Samaritan made the decision to cross the road to be with the victim, Hrynkiw commented. The Samaritan could have justified his refusal to help through the law, but he knew that his faith was based on loving one’s neighbour.

“The one who shows mercy is the neighbour. We decide to be the neighbour. . . . We have to pray for the disposition to be merciful so that God can move us to be merciful,” Hrynkiw commented.

Compassion is a gift, a way of suffering. God moved the Good Samaritan’s passivity into action. Compassion is not the same as having pity on others because pity does not move us to come to know others and become directly involved with them. Compassion means “to suffer with” others, Hrynkiw said.

The priest and Levite may have had pity on the dying traveller, but they did not have any tenderness of heart. They did not have the moral courage of the Good Samaritan who crossed the road and used his own oil and wine to cleanse the wounds of the beaten traveller. The Good Samaritan put the injured man on his own animal and went out of his way to take him to an inn.

The Good Samaritan came personally into the life of another person. He interrupted his business and his work schedule to help the distressed traveller, he commented.

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