By Karen Clifford
SOUTH BEND — As Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades began his homily during the South Bend Christ Child Society’s Spring Mass at St. Patrick Church on March 24, he asked those in attendance to reflect on the upcoming Holy Week and Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, yet not what I will, but what you will.”
The desire to escape suffering was voiced in the Mass’ reading from the book of Daniel when three young men refused to worship the golden statue set up by King Nebuchadnezzar. “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said to the king: ‘If our god, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up,’” Bishop Rhoades emphasized.
Like Jesus, these young men do not compel God to save them, but to obey his will, Bishop Rhoades noted. “That is truly the attitude Jesus had in the garden when He prayed to the Father. It is the attitude that we are called to have when tragedy strikes in our lives or when we face difficulties and sufferings: Father, let this cup pass from me, yet not what I will, but what you will.”
In the case of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, God did rescue them. Yet Bishop Rhoades explained that God did not spare his Son from crucifixion. “Indeed the Father handed his Son over to sinners in order to reconcile us to Himself, so great is the Father’s love for us. And Jesus embraced in His human heart the Father’s love for all of us. As St. John says: ‘Jesus loved them to the end.’ Jesus laid down His life of His own accord, freely offering Himself as the Lamb of sacrifice.”
So how could a loving God allow his Son to die? Bishop Rhoades answered it is specifically because God loves Jesus and us that the Passion occurs. “God the Father indeed loves the Son with a love beyond any we can imagine. We were reminded of this in the movie ‘The Passion of the Christ’ when, at the moment of Jesus’ death on the cross, a tear falls from heaven. And, of course, we should consider the Resurrection of Jesus also as a revelation of God the Father’s love since the Father raised His beloved Son from the dead.”
Bishop Rhoades concluded the homily by reminding the congregation the sacrifice of Jesus is present each time we take the Eucharist. “In the Eucharist we are to unite ourselves to Christ’s sacrifice. We unite our lives, our sufferings, joys, prayers and works with Christ’s offering. It is important to remember that the Eucharist is the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Church. Participating actively in the Eucharist, body, mind and soul, we enter into the mystery of God’s love in a profound way.”
After Mass, Christ Child members attended a business luncheon at the Gillespie Center, located at Saint Mary’s College in South Bend. President Beth Barrett was happy to announce that despite the current economic downturn, the South Bend chapter of Christ Child was successful in fundraising events and grants.
“Challenging poverty one child at a time is a mission that resonates even in a recession. We have been particularly blessed with grants from Our Sunday Visitor and the Order of Malta along with some private foundations,” she stressed.
Fundraising events included Cloth a Child One and Two, which collected over $47,000 and $33,500 respectively, and the Holiday Benefit luncheon which collected $50,500. Private grants hovered around the $50,000 mark.
Barrett also noted this year that over 4,200 children were clothed at the South Bend Christ Child Center. In addition, 500 layettes, and 3,000 Layettes of Hope, and 250 coats through the Elkhart Initiative were distributed to those in need in the local community.
A new scholarship program is being investigated by the chapter. “Many other Christ Child chapters already offer scholarships for children who have received services from Christ Child, for parents who are enrolled in college, or for home management programs that can help lead clients out of poverty. This is a practical and effective way for the organization to challenge the cycle of poverty,” said Barrett.
The South Bend Christ Child board members elected at the luncheon for the 2010-2011 year are Mary Kay Bean, Pat Hillebrand, Mary Kay McGrath, Kathy Seidl and Rosie Wray.
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