February 3, 2019 - 4th Sunday Ordinary Time (C)
St. Paul had a really tough relationship with the Christians in Corinth.
The small group of converts were divided.
Different factions followed Paul, Peter, Apollos and Christ.
Each group claimed a life of grace apart from the cross of Jesus, and believed that speaking in tongues was the sign that you had received the Holy Spirit.
So the apostle speaks about, love, which unites those who have different gifts and makes them one.
In our second reading we hear him describe what this love is and is not.
St. John the Evangelist says, “God is love”, and in many ways, St. Paul is describing not human, but divine love: patient, kind, not self-seeking, rejoicing over the truth, enduring all manner of things.
To love like God is to desire the good for another, and not count the cost.
The love Paul describes a love that stretches and transforms us.
I’ve seen this love among you here: children caring for homebound and dying parents; parents nurturing children with autism, or physical or mental disabilities.
Our catechists who week after week spend part of their Saturdays sharing their faith with the children of this parish, demonstrate this love, as do the men and women who clean our church every week.
Parishioners here give of their time to feed the poor Monday through Thursday and twice on Friday, and prepare food to take to the Dolores Mission.
As I look at the past three years I realize I did not love you as well as I could have.
First of all, I did not pray for you enough.
Too often I put off coming to the church to pray before Jesus on your behalf, and instead worked as though everything depended on me.
I could have done more to challenge you to holiness – which is not just coming to church or saying prayers, although those are indispensable in the Christian life.
Jesus wants to do amazing things through us, his body – things that will radically change the world.
He promises in the Gospel of John, “whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.”
I could have loved you better by helping you see how you are Christ for others through your work as caregivers, nurses, attorneys, financial planners, teachers, laborers, dads, moms, husbands and wives.
Sometimes I valued popularity more than truth.
St. Paul didn’t have that problem – he lived for Christ crucified, and wasn’t afraid to experience rejection, taunts and gossip.
Love that comes from God not only stretches us, it is risky.
St. Paul endured beatings, imprisonment and, eventually death to proclaim Jesus.
I didn’t love you like Jesus, who in the Gospel today is rejected by those he grew up with simply because he tells them the truth.
I didn’t risk saying difficult truths with you, and I’m sorry.
Even though I’m leaving, the parish pastoral council has worked hard with me to shape a pastoral plan for the next few years.
I will be sharing this plan with the new pastor and encouraging him to implement it with the help of leaders of this parish and the pastoral council.
The plan is derived from surveys you filled out, town hall meetings and other gatherings with parishioners.
Its focus is evangelization – helping people encounter Jesus, and it has three aspects.
The first is hospitality.
We know that at a time when people are leaving the Church, others are also seeking God hoping to find peace, meaning, forgiveness and belonging.
The parish staff, independently of the parish council, also identified Hospitality as an area for improvement, so the Holy Spirit seems to be nudging us in this direction.
This priority includes everything from having signs on buildings and parish campus maps, to welcome packets for new parishioners.
And each one of us has the responsibility to recognize and welcome the stranger in our midst who may be coming back to church for the first time in years.
Many of you are immigrants, and may at times have felt unwelcome in this country.
That must not happen to people who come to our parish, no matter what they look like, how they dress, or what they’ve done in the past.
In our second survey the highest response to what parishioners said they wanted to do was “outreach to the poor”, and so this is a second focus.
We have many service opportunities in the parish like the St. Vincent de Paul Society, HOPE dinner, lunch program, Dolores Mission food program, and LOVE ministry.
We can learn about already existing outreach programs in Eagle Rock.
Wouldn’t it be great to organize groups of parishioners to serve our neighbors together and help them encounter Jesus through us?
A simple way of outreach is inviting people to come sit in church in the presence of Jesus, or to come a movie night discussion, or to a Sunday Mass.
National religious surveys indicate that youth are leaving the Church.
We need to put resources and energy into ministry to our youth and young adults.
This is a third and final focus in our pastoral plan.
Ministry to youth will not have much effect if their parents do not practice the faith.
It’s especially important for dad to be at Mass and to model prayer.
We need people to minister to children from middle school through high school to complement the work of Randy de Vera with our Confirmation kids.
We have to support the parents of our youth with resources to improve their marriages and their parenting skills.
I would love to help those married outside the church to have their marriages blessed so they can participate fully in the grace God desires for us in the Sacraments.
We need to expand our ministry to parents preparing to have their children baptized, to reinstate a liturgy of the word for children during Mass.
Finally, we have to put energy into a young adult ministry for men and women aged 18-39 to help nurture their faith and to navigate an increasingly secular world.
The parish pastoral council discerned these are things Jesus may be asking of us, and with Him, all things are possible.
He calls us to love him, and to love like him.
If we do, then he promises we may share in his suffering and rejection precisely becausewe love Him, follow Him and have become like Him.
But remember, God told Jeremiah not to fear rejection, even from his own people.
They would not prevail against him because God was with him.
Even though I won’t be with you much longer, Jesus is and always will be with you, until the end of days.
Follow Him, and one day we will be together again, never to be parted, as we share eternally in His love which never fails.
February 3, 2019 - 4th Sunday Ordinary Time (C)
3 Febrero 2019 - Cuarto Domingo Año C
December 30, 2018 - Holy Family
30 de diciembre 2018 - Sagrada Familia
December 25, 2018 Mass During the Day
3rd Sunday of Advent December 16, 2018
Tercero Domingo de Adviento, 16 de deciembre 2018
33rd Sunday Ordinary Time B
XXXIII Domingo, November 18, 2018
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