What does it mean to be a Christian? For us Catholics, it is very foreign question but one that I think the times are demanding we look at. What does it mean to follow Jesus? The Gospel today gives us a hint. It is not about being powerful or being served. As we are witnessing, this will only lead to trouble and corruption. Authentic Christianity is about serving one another in the name of the Lord Jesus. It means that we align ourselves with the vulnerable of the world. Jesus gathering that child to himself for me is a sign that His Body exists, we exist, to serve the poor and vulnerable, no matter who they are, what they look or where they are.
The cornerstone of any Christian community must be Christ. He is the source of the Church, the center of every parish, the inspiration of all we do , and the supreme model of service. As we look at the future, He must be the center of this community. Jesus must be the pastor. Jesus’s Word must be that which guides us. From this flows everything we are. Our worship will be focused on the glory of God and our thanksgiving to God for we have and have been given, most importantly, our salvation in Christ. The Sacraments will not be rituals we go through; they will be encounters with the saving mystery of God. Our gatherings for community and support will be build a community that learns how to laugh with each other, to learn each other’s name, how to work together with power plays, to disagree with each other and to know we that are there for each other. Our service to the vulnerable in this community and beyond will be done in Christ’s name and for His honor and glory, not ours. We have so much to give in this community, so many gifts and talents that we can make a better world. Together we are strong; together we can serve, together we will rebuild the Body of Christ. Finally, we must learn about who Jesus is. How? Learning how to prayer; studying the Sacred Scriptures, learning what our church teaches and why, forming our consciences so we can make good decisions, and learning how to question and grow deeper in our belief.
How will we do all this? By prayer and God’s help. I have been wondering to myself why I stay in the Church and how can I represent a group that has done things that have hurt others and then worse, covered it up. What I have come to know is that my faith is not in a structure or institution. I stay because of Jesus and who he is for me. Jesus is more than a concept, but my friend and Master, the one I talk to through out the day, the one who I can always count on when things are crazy in my life, Jesus is the one who shows me the way even I resist him…I have learned that my friend in very patient with me. This is the Jesus I want you to know and love. It is this Jesus who binds this community together.
What will attract people here will not just be the building even though it is important. What will attract people maybe the music and how it is, but that cannot be the only reason. What will attract people here maybe the faith formation process or how well we serve the poor and needed. All important, but that can’t be the main focus either. What will attract people here will be them walking in here and leaving and saying that those people are really Christian and they showed me who Jesus is and can be for my life. I want to go back there because I found Jesus there.
For us here at St Mary’s. I am making that our main goal. As we make our commitment to the Reigniting our faith and discipleship initiative the next few weeks, I ask you to see your contribution as a way to help this community to create opportunities for people to know Jesus, to help you grow in your life with Christ, and to make this church’s reputation be about Jesus. As you will see, everything we are proposing to use our 70% will be focused just on that: enlivening and deepening your commitment to Christ and mine, to worship well, to be a community, and people who serve the rest.