Hungry, Naked, and Sick

10702060_765501393522463_5332331349274774028_nYou heard the Gospel on Sunday, right? Well maybe some of you did, maybe some of you didn’t. Here is a snippet from Matthew 25:

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.’

This is Jesus speaking to us, reminding us of our Christian life and vocation. It is one of the most powerful Gospels, clearly telling us what to do if we want to follow and serve Jesus.

In early 2012 I was invited to contribute a few gospel reflections to a book that was being put together by Deacon Jim Knipper; the book would be sold to benefit others and his working title for his enterprise was “Homilists for the Homeless.” While flattered, and slightly mystified to why I was invited along, I said yes – imagining one of those spiral bound books you can get made up at Staples, sold in Jim’s parish gathering space. Was I ever wrong!

Imagine my shock and surprise when the dawn began to break in my head and I realized that I would be in a book with a number of spiritual and religious giants who were heroes of mine, such as Richard Rohr OFM. Then there was James Martin SJ, whom I had interviewed by phone once, and corresponded with a little – another person who inspired me regularly. These two were the big ones for me, but there were many others. This first volume of Homilists for the Homeless gathered voices that were ordained and lay, Catholic and other Christian, male and female, to break open the Scriptures for each Sunday and Holy Day in the Catholic liturgical year. And the title? Back to today’s Gospel, the book would be called “Hungry, and You Fed Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle C.”

We’ve been busy since then, still hearing that Gospel in our hearts and publishing “Naked, and You Clothed Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle A” last year. This November we have released our third volume in the series, “Sick, and You Cared for Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle B.”

This is new for this year - a box set of all three volumes. Available  at this link.

This is new for this year – a box set of all three volumes. Available at this link.

We’ve also been blessed richly, selling many, many books. The result has been that over $30,000 has been distributed to our selected charities for our first two years. We look forward to what the future brings and are grateful for our readers and such wide support.

16392_756880211051248_3157002784781926629_nOur list of contributors has grown since year one, keeping all the originals such as Deacon Greg Kandra, Fr. William Baush, and Michael Leach,  while adding some new voices. For example, last year we added names like Sister Simone Campbell SSS, Jan Richardson, Mary Sperry, Gregory Boyle SJ, Michelle Francl, Daniel Horan OFM, and Rob Bell. This year Deacon William Ditewig, Rev. Martha Sterne, and Margaret Blackie were added, and Joan Chittester OSB wrote our forward! All of our cover and interior art is done by Bro. Mickey McGrath OSFS. There are so many voices, names recognizable and others less so, but all quite gifted and passionate. You can find a comprehensive list of our contributors at this link.

I can’t even begin to express what an honor and privilege it is to be a part of such an august group. And that’s my ego speaking – the real honor and privilege comes from knowing just how many others are served because of these books.

Think the books are not for you because you are not a homilist, think again. We have many readers. Some use the books as homiletic resources for preachers from every tradition. Others use it to study, read, and pray. Groups and individuals use the books for weekly prayer and scripture study. I have heard of people bringing them to nursing homes and other facilities; I’m sure that they would be a welcome addition to prison libraries.

If you have purchased our books – we thank you! And if you are just learning about us, please have a look at our website. We are grateful for your purchase which puts the Gospel into action. Please “like” us at our Facebook page and “follow” us on Twitter. visit our Clear Faith Publishing website, where you will find other items for sale. We are also grateful for any social media sharing that you can offer us. Not for us, but for the sake of those who are hungry, naked, and sick. Which in the end, is all of us – completely dependent on Christ, completely dependent on one another.

Final Update – We have a new bishop in Albany!

RCDAI will make this one final update to this post on this busy day for the Roman Catholic Church in Albany! I viewed a livestream of the press conference with Bishop Hubbard and Bishop-Elect Scharfenberger at 11am. Bishop Hubbard was his typically gracious and funny self, speaking about how glad he was to know that Bishop-Elect Scharfenberger would be our new shepherd. He offered him some gifts, including a purple zuchetto that belonged to Bishop Edwin Broderick, and also a Mets cap, and a map of our physically large diocese.

Bishop-Elect Scharfenberger started with a prayer, and then offered his own equally funny, gracious and informative words in return. It was moving to hear his speak about his 93 year old parents, and his great gratitude for them. He then took some questions. As I am at work, I missed some of them, but I did hear someone ask what would happen between now and April 10, which will be the date of his episcopal ordination at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception here in Albany. In a very wise reply, he said that the diocese was in good hands, and that he had a lot to do in Brooklyn, so that he would probably “make himself scarce” until April 10th. He seems easy going, funny, and warm; clearly he has a pastoral side.

So let us pray for both men, and for those who will miss Bishop-Elect Scharfenberger, for the Bishop-Elect Scharfenberger himself, and for our own diocese and for Bishop Hubbard!

Here are some updates , beginning with a portion of a statement from our retiring Bishop Howard J. Hubbard:

“It is with great joy that we welcome Bishop-Elect Edward Scharfenberger of the Diocese of Brooklyn, as the 10th diocesan bishop of Albany.

For the past 37 years I have had the privilege of serving as Bishop in the Diocese of Albany – a community consisting of 14 counties spread over ten thousand square miles, stretching from the Pennsylvania border to the Vermont border; from the Massachusetts state line to the Utica City line; from the Northern Catskills to the Southern Adirondacks. It is a territory dotted with cities, towns, villages, suburban and rural communities. It is an area blessed with not only magnificent physical beauty but most important with the rich and vibrant spiritual splendor of its 350,000 priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful. We greet him with warmth, hospitality and a sincere desire to be attentive and responsive to his leadership as our shepherd.”

Source: The Deacon's Bench

Source: The Deacon’s Bench

And also some words from our Bishop Elect Edward Scharfenberger:

It is humbling when I think that I soon will be counted among the successors of the Lord’s Apostles. I am not worthy of this office and I hope that our priests, deacons, religious and lay people will pray for me often as, together, we continue along our journey of faith.

What else do I ask for? What do I hope for? I ask the priests, deacons, religious and laity to help me to be myself – my best self. I promise to love and respect all of you by letting you be who you are and to bring out the best in you. Let’s do this for one another. I will spend every talent that God has given to me, and every ounce of energy, for the Church in Albany.

I commend myself and my ministry to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of our Diocese.”

This is breaking news, but from today’s Albany Times Union:

“The diocese will announced later Tuesday morning the appointment Rev. Msgr. Edward B. Scharfenberger, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, as the new spiritual leader for the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese.

Scharfenberger, 65, was appointed by Pope Francis early Tuesday to be the tenth bishop of the diocese, Father Kenneth Doyle said.”

And this from my dear long-time blogging buddy and real-life friend Deacon Greg Kandra at The Deacon’s Bench:

“Ed Scharfenberger is a good man Continue reading