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Tacoma Dominicans
Celebration of 125 years comes to close

This year, the Tacoma Dominican Sisters are celebrating 125 years of ministry at parishes in Washington, Oregon, and California where they staffed schools. In September, Sister Mary Pat Murphy, OP, preached the following homily at Holy Cross Parish, Tacoma.

We Tacoma Dominicans gather with you to celebrate the 125th anniversary of our founding in the Northwest. As I prayed and reflected in the readings for this Sunday (Amos 6:1, 4-7; Luke 16:19-31), the basic theme which comes through all of the readings is Compassion, Justice and Mercy.

The prophet Amos did not come from wealth and neither was he poor. He shepherded cattle and sheep and his vivid imagery speaks of this life. Amos speaks out about the grave injustices of his day, when wealth was in the hands of the few, what today we might call the 1 percent, and the majority suffered from grave social injustice. His mission was to remind Israel of their moral obligation of love, justice and mercy. He spoke out against the oppressive structures and as written in the Commentaries, “The social injustices of his time were an antithesis of the covenant spirit. A nation can have a true covenant relationship with God only when people of the nation deal justly with one another.”

In last week’s Scripture reading, Amos spoke of the First Two Woes. In today’s reading, he speaks of the Third Woe: self-centered and luxury-loving rulers of Judah and Israel who will be punished by exile.

The Gospel story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is very familiar to us, and our first response might be to condemn the rich man. The message that Jesus wants us to hear is that he does not condemn wealth, but rather selfishness. He discredits the rich man for being blind to the needs of his fellow human being. The greater concern might be that the rich man and we be unaware of our own blindness. The message we may need to hear is to question of our comfortable blindness and our contentment. Pope Francis speaks of “comfortable living that can cause gentrification of the heart.”

Our Dominican Brother Jude Siciliano writes: “This parable is really a parable of mercy. Despite its harsh sound it says, "Wake up!" To hear this parable is to be called to transformation and to work to make our world resemble the values expressed in it. Am I and we ready for that transformation?”

Amos, St. Luke and now Pope Francis call us to compassion, justice and mercy. This message today then leaves us with the question: Are our eyes and hearts open to the needy at our doors—the door of our nation, or neighborhood, our church or our own home?

For the people of Holy Cross Parish, it is obvious that your eyes and hearts are open to the needs of others. You have a long history of outreach to the needy in your midst. Compassion and mercy takes many forms: We give thanks for the parish members who visit the sick, the lonely, and home-bound. We hear of the women parishioners who raise funds for Rainier School, the Food Connection, Catholic Community Services, St. Vincent de Paul Society, and your food bank. Yes, you truly live out the message of mercy, justice, and compassion as expressed by the Psalmist: “Yahweh, you keep faith forever, you secure justice for the oppressed."