Today, in the presence of our pastor, Archbishop Michael Miller, and by means of a parish ministries fair, let us simply celebrate ourselves, and God’s goodness to us here at St. Mary’s parish.
His Grace will preside our 11:15 a.m. mass, and be with us at the parish ministries fair in the church basement from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m., and again from 12:15 until roughly 2:00 p.m. Let us look at ourselves as he does, from the outside, and acknowledge and give thanks to God for the blessedness of our parish. And like Mary, let us resolve to stay small and humble, for “God’s mercy is on those who fear Him, from generation to generation”, He “lifts up the lowly,… and fills the hungry with good things.” Read carefully today’s psalm 121, a precious complement to Mary’s wild confidence in the Providence of God for his servants. At the heart of this beautiful psalm of confidence is this striking affirmation: God is as close to you as the shade cast by your body! He clings to us like a shadow. Under the patronage of Mary, there is much to emulate, much to celebrate, much to give thanks for.
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On another equally joyful note, today is World Mission Sunday. Actually, this entire month of October, by decree of Pope Francis, is devoted to an insistence upon, and a celebration of the evangelizing mission of the entire Church. After he rose from the dead, Jesus commissioned all of his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations”. It makes perfect sense that he should have commissioned us all, because, when you think of it, where does evangelization happen, if not where Church meets world? But where does the Church meet the world? Is it not in the everyday lives of the laity in the Church? We, the clergy, spend the bulk of our time in churches and parish rectories, surrounded by people who share our convictions. You are out there, rubbing shoulders all the time with people who have either left our Church or have never been a part of it. There is no doubt in my mind that evangelization – at least primary evangelization, an initial contact with the gospel, with the Church, simply has to be the task of the laity in the Church. Since this mandate which is at the heart of what it is to be Church belongs primarily to you as laity, I pray, in the words of Pope Francis, that you will be “empowered by the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be courageous and zealous in bearing witness to the Gospel”, that the Holy Spirit will “help you make it possible for all people to experience the saving love and mercy of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.” Amen!
In the beautiful words of St. Peter: You are the people whom “God has chosen to declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” 1 Pet 2,9. Therefore, “Always be ready to render an account of the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” 1 Pet 3,15
Just be yourselves, as Christians, and have no fear. It’s all God’s doing.