July 14, 2019: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Associate Pastor’s Corner
The Parable of the Good Samaritan is one of those parables that crosses generations, political boundaries, and international borders.
This parable gives us a beautiful vision of friendship and companionship. This is the vision that Christ desires within our world, in our country, and within our community.
In May, I went on my annual mission trip to Hong Kong. Our city and Hong Kong have many things in common. One of the largest commonalities I see is that both Hong Kong and San Francisco can be a very lonely town if we allow it to be. I talked about this all of the time when I was chaplain of our YAG, and I spoke about it often with I was in Hong Kong this past May.
When our team met with then-Bishop Ha about our Missionary Work in Hong Kong, the one thing he had requested is that we find young adult fellowship for the English-speaking Catholics. “We are losing this population in college and after,” he said, “we have people for the Cantonese, but for English, we are very undermanned.”
Not too many moons later, we went to work. Our team of three missionaries landed at Hong Kong International Airport, dropped our things at the Mission Center in Tai Po, and got to work. A 6-week series on how to pray. A 4-part series on learning how to ballroom dance and to build healthy (romantic?) relationships. Tuesday fellowship night where we speak about the faith, then go out to dinner. Bible Studies. A spontaneous Happy Hour. A quiet, prayerful hike on Good Friday. A pilgrimage to the Portuguese-style churches in Macau.
And the thing is, most of these programs--they were requested by the young adults themselves. These beautiful young people wanting to learn more about God, their faith, and about each other, and how to be a community. They were the ones Whatsapping Tricia, me, and the team for more excuses to get together. More events, more opportunities to gather, more times to lay eyes upon each other and make each other laugh, chat, and cry.
I remember when our team had attended Young Adult Night, our spiritual cousins, the Franciscans, allow the young adults to meet in their hall. Being that this was my first time speaking with any of them, I asked, “What do you want from this fellowship?”
Instantly, one of them blurted, “Friends.”
And predictably, and albeit oddly, most everyone in that room nodded their heads. They wanted friends. Hong Kong, like San Francisco, can be a deadly lonely place if we allow it to be.
Hong Kong, like San Francisco, is frantic paced city. There is always something to do at work. In Hong Kong, it is very common that a young adult financier would sit at their cubicle by 8:00 am, and then go home at 1:00 in the morning, five, sometimes six, days a week. With a grind to laser sharp attention to detail, results, good numbers, and world-class quality, it is easy to forget to live. To love. To be with friends and form a community.
The parable of the Good Samaritan helps us realize the importance of being a companion. To be the one who will drop everything in order to take care of one another, to laugh, to cry, to be vulnerable with. A friend, a true friend, is a person in which you know the person’s heart, who knows your heart, and together, your friendship leads you closer to Christ. It’s underappreciated how cathartic and healing it may be to walk with a person whose heart you know so intimately. How much more joy can be brought when we pray together, to perform good acts for one another, and to be fully human and present to one another.
San Francisco, like Hong Kong, can be a terribly lonely place if we allow it to be. Let’s put down those cell phones and be with one another, and challenge each other to recognize the Christ within each other’s souls.
I am the chaplain (and other things of the) St. Francis Xavier Lay Missionary Society is a Catholic non-profit organization dedicated to evangelize to young adults in Asia. You can give financially via Paypal at www.laymissionary.org, giving a monthly or one-time gift of $50 or more; we are an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our EIN is: 46-2993509.
~Fr. Isaiah Mary