“Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear. Here is your God. He will come and save you.’ And the ransomed of the Lord shall return; sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Is 35,6…10
The verses above, taken from Isaiah in today’s first reading, relate the experience of those who pass from bewilderment, in the absence of the gospel in their lives, to peace, once they have embraced the gospel. It is a mystery of grace. This passage from bewilderment to peace can happen in a million ways. One very common way is through the experience of Alpha. This unique catechesis for people who are very far-removed from faith and church life has known tremendous success since its inception in the United Kingdom, sometime around the year 2000, by a man called Nicky Gumbel. Once again this year, we are pleased to be able to offer Alpha here at St. Mary’s, in the church basement. It will run from Friday February 28th until Friday May 22nd, from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. The evening begins with a meal, followed by extremely well-made videos, and usually a talk and some discussion in small groups. This is made possible by the generosity of Eli Bautista, a former lay minister here at St. Mary’s, and a formidable team of people from Families for Christ.
Please note that this catechesis is intended primarily for people who are very far from the Church; either people who have never been in the Church, or people who have left the Church long ago. This is where you come in. We here at the parish have no access to those people. We don’t know who they are. But you have access to them. They are your family members, your friends, your co-workers. There are certainly people out there who could use some Gospel, and whom only you know. Make Alpha known to them. Tell them it’s free, it’s on a Friday night, it involves a meal, and there is no commitment. They can come once, and if it’s not for them, they needn’t come back. Of course it’s best if they come for the first gathering on February 28th, but they are welcome to drop in any of the evenings that the programme is running.
When all is said and done, our Christian gospel is a gospel of redemption. It is the gospel of a saving God, for those who are in some kind of need of redemption, and who can’t redeem themselves. Given its content, our Gospel holds little appeal for people whose lives, as far as they know, are just fine. But there are people out there whose lives are not fine, who are really in need of gospel. Alpha is for them. But only you can guide them to Alpha.
Please help us to propose the gospel to the people in your life of whom you know that they could use some gospel.
Thanks and may God grace you with renewed awareness of gospel in this Advent and Christmas season.