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August 27, 2010

The Pastor's Note – August 28/29, 2010

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

(The following is my article written for our weekly parish notes bulletin insert.)

This past Thursday, the Samaritans of Saint Matthew’s served a dinner at the Walk In Kitchen in Hackensack like they have so many times before. Long hours of planning, cooking, preparing, and serving historically have been the norm, and this week, nothing changed. Thankful hearts at the Kitchen were met with hearty plates of pot roast and the various fixings, and no one was turned away. Even when we were down to the final bits of roast in the pan, we tried earnestly to serve the more than 130 hungry men, women, and children who came for a hot meal.

It continues to amaze me that in the county such as Bergen, where wealth is no object for many residents, we have members of our society who struggle to find food. People come from all around—some by foot, others by bus– just to get any sort of nourishment after a long day. And at the end of each month, when small personal budget dollars cannot be stretched far enough, these numbers swell at the Walk In Kitchen.

On Friday, I spent time thinking about this specific human care ministry of Saint Matthew’s and mentally compared it to evangelism. Human care ministries are less about evangelizing and more about fulfilling the loving words of our Lord Jesus Christ to love and care for our neighbors. It is less about preaching the Gospel and more about showing the Gospel in action. And that is what makes human care ministries different from evangelism programs.

Human care ministries focus on helping the neighbor living in this world. Evangelism focuses on proclaiming the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of souls. Many times, we can wrongly blend the two specific ministries of the church together, missing the great point of either one. But when we have a deep understanding of human care (showing love for neighbor) and evangelism (showing God’s love through Jesus Christ), you find Christ in action.

That is why the Samaritans, in their work this week, showed what helping your neighbor is all about. Their work was not about accolades or receiving thanks, but about loving our neighbor as God has loved each one us through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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