We can consider ourselves blessed in that so many people attend Mass each week at Holy Redeemer. Given the fact that so many people also serve the parish community in many different ways, we have every reason to give thanks to God each day that we able to respond to the graces that God freely bestows on us. However, we can never allow ourselves to become complacent, because there is always so much more to be done and to be improved upon. We have to remember that we are not simply disciples of the Lord, but that we are all called to witness to the love of God in our personal lives, among our family members and to the wider community.
One of the ways in which we can measure the quality of our Christian witness is by asking ourselves if we can consider ourselves to be a welcoming parish. For example, do we make any real effort to get to know one another as fellow parishioners, or do we simply do our duty by attending Mass? It has often been noted that one of the reasons why Catholics are tempted to join other Christian Churches is that other Christian communities make much more of a conscious effort to welcome people and to make them feel cared for in their life and in their faith. It seems to me that we have much to learn from these Churches and that we really don’t do enough to invite others to join us for Holy Mass or to make newcomers easily feel that they are part of a community that not only prays but also serves one another.
We should also ask ourselves whether we are doing enough in our lives to show others that the door of the Church is open to all those who are seeking God in their lives. There are so many people who, for one reason or another, find themselves lost and who can feel abandoned by the Church which is supposed to reveal the loving care of God in the world. I am sure that many of us know such persons, perhaps even in our own families. How do we respond to such people? Do we just remain silent or do we make any real effort to show others that in the parish we have a community that truly cares for all those in need?
There is always a temptation for us to think of our faith in purely private or individual terms. Of course it is important that we do all we can to grow in our personal relationship with our Redeemer. But a living faith means much more than that. As a Church, we are all called to reach out to the lost and the troubled, the broken and the confused. A failure to actively seek to be welcoming people is a failure to live out the example of Jesus, who spent His whole life offering a word of hope and comfort to all those who were suffering.
Fr Gerard, CSsR