(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 8 September 2017–Help Houston Day)
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
In the Gospels we read the account of the disciples being tossed about on the stormy lake with Jesus nowhere in sight. It is dark, the winds are howling, and the disciples cower in fear in the back of their small fishing boat. All of a sudden they see what they think is a ghost approaching them on the water, and they cry out in even greater terror. Peter jumps out of the boat to approach this ghost that identifies itself as Jesus; but, as soon as the strong winds buffet Peter he loses his courage, he loses his faith and begins to sink beneath the waves. Jesus reaches his hands out to him, leads him back to the safety of the boat, and the storm subsides.
Two weeks ago today on the Gulf Coast of Texas a mighty storm, Hurricane Harvey, brought destructive winds, enormous storm surge, and torrential rains to millions of people in Texas and Louisiana. People cowered in fear on the second floors of their homes as the waters rose; some people ventured to their rooftops, their courage ebbing, yelling for help as their neighborhoods became lakes. In the midst of this chaos and destruction, Dr. Stephen Kimmel, a pediatric surgeon and a graduate of La Salle Academy (Class of 1981) ventured out in the dark at the height of the storm in a canoe to paddle to a nearby hospital where a 16 year old young man needed emergency surgery. Dr. Kimmel performed the successful surgery—yes, through his hands holding a paddle and a scalpel, Jesus reached out to that young man and saved him.
Matt Maloney, a La Salle grad (Class of 2005), an all-state athlete, a teacher at Saint Michael’s Academy in Austin, Texas, and the brother of Mrs. Megan Maloney Carey of our faculty, joined with his fellow members of the Texas Search and Rescue Team and went into the face of danger in Port Aransas, Texas, to save people both by amphibious vehicle and by boat—yes, through his strong hands and arms, Jesus reached out and saved many.
Three high school students from Strake Jesuit in Houston, a school much life our own, took their boat through their neighborhood to rescue those who were cut off from the rest of the world; and, workers in a Mexican bakery surrounded by flood waters and unable to escape did not cower in fear—they baked 2 tons of bread to feed the homeless in the shelters of Houston. Through the hands of those high students and the hands of those bakers, Jesus reached out to those in need.
I have no doubt that were such a catastrophe to occur here in RI (God forbid!) members of the La Salle Academy community would find ways to reach out to those needing assistance, much as Dr. Kimmel and Matt Maloney, our fellow Lasallians, did. Being 1,500 miles away from Houston should not stop us from being the hands of Jesus that reach out to our brothers and sisters in Texas and Louisiana, people who are desperate for assistance and still are fearful about their future, people like the Lasallian Sisters of Vietnam (a group of religious women associated with the De La Salle Christian Brothers) whose convent, chapel, and educational center serving Vietnamese children in Houston were completely destroyed.
This morning we too are invited to allow our hands to be the hands of Jesus. We use our hands today to reach deeply into our pockets and pocketbooks to give not only the minimum donation but to go above and beyond that, as Dr. Kimmel and Matt Maloney did. Through our hands and our sharing some young people in Houston might be able to get clothes to wear to school when they start in a few weeks; through our hands and our sharing some families might be provided a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving in a shelter because they have no home to return to; through our hands and our sharing some kids might get gifts for Christmas to have a little joy as they live as displaced persons; through our hands and our sharing the Lasallian Sisters might be able to re-open their educational center. Through our hands and our sharing, we allow Jesus’ hands to reach out to save the thousands drowning in desperation and hopelessness.
And, after we have given, we use our hands in another way, clasping them in prayer that God might look with favor on our brothers and sisters in Texas and Louisiana and now in the Caribbean islands and soon in Florida as they face the devastation of Hurricane Irma.
So, let us pray now in the words of Saint Teresa of Avila:
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” AMEN.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.
Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC