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Office for Social Ministry Talk Story: It is a Burden of Love

July 24, 2023

From the Office for Social Ministry

“Jesus can enter the lives of those who live with so little peace, who have to sleep by day to guard against the human predators who prowl at night … Jesus chooses each one of us to witness his presence to someone in our lives.” (Bishop Larry Silva, homily, Feast of Our Lady of Peace, July 9, 2023)

Bishop Larry Silva’s homily on the feast day of Our Lady of Peace delivered a compelling message about the ways we can each address the complicated challenge of homelessness in Hawaii by sharing the peace of the presence of Christ with those who need. “It is a burden of love,” he said, “and if we take it up in whatever situation the Lord may put us in, we will not only find peace for our own souls but will bring the peace of Christ to many others as well.”

Bishop Silva was inspired by attending a recent Living Waters webinar featuring leaders from the River of Life Mission, who discussed a change in their approach in reaching out to houseless people. In the past, the River of Life Mission in Honolulu had been providing three meals a day to homeless individuals around Chinatown. However, it recently decided to shift its strategy to offering only one meal a week through a mobile food truck in different locations to smaller groups.

Those who serve now have more interaction with homeless persons and are building personal relationships to help move homeless persons to programs that address the roots of their homelessness. Bishop Silva reminds us that we can all play a similar role in helping resolve this huge problem in society by witnessing to Jesus through small interpersonal actions of love living our faith.

Bishop Silva often preaches about how the experience of Christian love through personal interaction is a vital part of transforming lives. The webinar presenters shared inspiring stories of several people whose lives were changed once they came to feel Christ’s very real presence and love for them. As Bishop Silva put it, “they came to know Jesus because caring disciples of Jesus first reached out to them in their physical need, then made sure the spiritual salve of the Gospel could open them to true salvation.” Bishop Silva also pointed out that this model of reaching out to the homeless does involve professionals, such as psychologists and social workers; yet the volunteers are “ordinary people who care enough to spend time with the homeless … who simply want to put their faith into practice.”

Showing love with persons in need is a vital part of witnessing to Jesus. Drawing from the feast of Our Lady of Peace, Bishop Silva highlighted her example of agape love and her desire to bring peace into the lives of the homeless, abandoned, sick and confused persons. Bishop Silva emphasized that God often chooses the humble and unknown to do his greatest work. He challenged us all to consider how we can reach out to those who feel unloved and purposeless and show them the love and purpose that Jesus can provide. Bishop Silva recognizes that this is “hard work,” but he encourages us all to put our faith into action.

“It demands that we step far out of our comfort zones to witness to Jesus in very concrete ways,” he said. “But if we do take this burden upon us and put that yoke around our necks to move things forward out of the mud and darkness, we will find that the yoke is easy and the burden light, because it is a burden of love.”

Let us answer the Gospel call to be instruments of peace through sharing the love of Christ and his Blessed Mother with all in need. For the full text of Bishop Silva’s homily on the Feast of Our Lady of Peace, please go to page 2 of this newspaper (hawaiicatholicherald.com) or to the diocesan website catholichawaii.org.

For a replay of the Living Waters Ministry webinar Bishop Silva attended, visit the Living Water Ministry website www.himonline.org where there is more information about its upcoming hands-on in-person Christian seminar, “Homelessness: An effective solution for Christians and their churches,” on August. 19, 2023.

PS. In next week’s eNews and the Hawaii Catholic Herald, OSM will be sharing more about how parish social ministries in the Diocese are living their faith and Witnessing to Jesus through their outreach ministries with homeless persons. Mahalo from your friends at the Office for Social Ministry.