Sunday, September 21, 2014

Just Social or is it More?

Just Social or is it More?

  Today was my parish’s picnic and it was an amazing time. A lot went into the planning and set up for today and it was beyond worth it. For three days there was physical labor for the set up from tables, chairs, fences, games, drinks, food etc.. For months there was the planning and then selling tickets. Over 600 people came and it was a great success. 

    So, Why am I sharing this? Well, to be honest, it is because some people do not see the importance of events like this or see them as a lesser part of a spiritual life of the parish and the person who attends. I will go on record and say this has never been my idea or perception at all. I have always felt and said it is so vital to the parish and the individual person. There is more to this then just some good laughs and fun times. Yes, for some it is just that but lets not limit the impact this may have on people either. 

    Some people will say these kinds of events, while are nice and fun, are not as important, not ministry, or that it fills peoples social aspects of life but that is it. Yes, is it the ultimate of events, no. The Holy Mass, the Sacraments, Prayer are the staples that hold our spiritual lives together but these kinds of events impact us still in a way that fills our souls with joy. 

     First, lets look at why this is ministry. One of the definitions of “ministry” is the act of serving and the definition of “serving” is to render assistance, be of use, help. These events do not happen on their own. There is no miracle with setting up or breaking down these kinds of events. It takes people who are taking time out of their lives. People decide to help to serve so others can have a good time and be able to gather together. To say to these people that it is not a ministry is to down play their role and makes it come of as no big deal. It is a big deal. Coming together to build up a parish, build up its members, is what these people are doing. When people help, they feel even more vested in the parish and with that come the faith as well. 

     Second, lets see why these events are important. These kinds of events foster a sense of community. At these events people meet each other, make connections and sometimes friendships start. At my church there are six different masses and with that most people go to one set mass each week and do not have a clue to who is going to other masses. Here, we have a mix of the parish. People get to meet each other both during the set up and the event it self. It is a way for new people to meet others and even help out. People are able to share their talents and gifts with each other. These kinds of events also allows us to invite others to come and meet people or even a nice way to introduce people to the parish, to other people and yes the Catholic Faith. The Catholic Faith? Yes. Let us face facts the Catholic Church does not get great press so if you know someone who is hesitant about coming to church or feel like this is not for me, then invite them to an event where they do meet other Catholics, meet the Clergy and let them see the “people” who are there. We can not discredit the “Holy Spirit” and what can occur. Will it always work? No, but why not try and see. Those who have been away from church or think church is not for them, need to see the full spectrum of the Church. It is easier to get someone to go to a picnic then a mass. We need to meet people where they are and serve them in the way that we can show them Jesus. Like I said earlier, We can not limit the impact of events or people. 

      Third, as I thought about this idea for the blog two stories from the bible came to mind. The first being the story of “Mary and Martha” and the second being the “ Wedding at Cana”. The first story of “Mary and Martha” shows both the ministry aspect and the social aspect. Martha, worked and worked while Mary, sat and listened. Martha being the ministry aspect and Mary the social aspect. I know some will say, “Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, so it wasn’t as much as social as He ministered to her and others”. Yes, I agree but only to a point and here is why. We are not able to do as Mary did per say because Jesus is not in physical form working before us and sitting down to speak to us in a physical human form. Yet, does it not say in the bible “Where two or there are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Here we are gathering as the church body in His name. Another point with this is that I know I have had conversations with people at these events that really shaped my life. Something they said created a spark in me or something they said I needed to hear. Ok, no not every conversation is about church, God, religions etc or even a majority of them but still those conversations are being had among people there. We are all to be Jesus in the world and that does not stop in social settings. If we are in Christ Jesus, He is in every aspect including social in our lives. Now the second part. Yes, it is a stretch but humor me, the Wedding at Cana. The first miracle of Jesus happened at a social gathering. Not at a time when Jesus gathered people together to show what He can do but at a social event that He, Himself was attending. At these social gatherings miracles can happen. People who fell lost or not apart of things can feel that. People who are invited can start to have a flicker of wanting more. People who want to belong can help and feel they are needed. We do not know why everyone are there or what they need in the life, but God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit do. This gives people an opportunity to experience something positive in their lives that involves the Church. Again, we can not limit the Trinity and how the Trinity works in us and through us. 

      At one point today I stopped and took a deep breath and just looked around and thought to myself.. “ We did good today”. I do not mean this as a pat on the back but because good memories were being made for kids that involve church, people got the chance to help out and share their gifts and talents, people got to catch up with people and share whats going on in all areas of their lives, and people gathered on church grounds and showed that their faith and the church are important to them. I have always said that the one thing I want to hear after this life on earth is done for me is that God says to me “ You did good”. Just three words that means so much to me and I really feel that today God said “ You all did good”. 

     We do not know what can change a person and give them a new lease on life but what I do think we know is that since we do not know, we need to try it all and hope and pray that whatever is needed is given. It may just be something that happened at a social event. I hope that people who feel that the social aspect of the church does not matter have a change of heart and see that it is just another opportunity for us to gather and show who we are, the Catholic Church. 

Until tomorrow, God Bless, and let us always remember to use every opportunity to share the love of Jesus in the world. 

Monday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 449
Reading 1
PRV 3:27-34
Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim
when it is in your power to do it for him.
Say not to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
tomorrow I will give,” when you can give at once.

Plot no evil against your neighbor,
against one who lives at peace with you.
Quarrel not with a man without cause,
with one who has done you no harm.

Envy not the lawless man
and choose none of his ways:
To the LORD the perverse one is an abomination,
but with the upright is his friendship.

The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked,
but the dwelling of the just he blesses;
When dealing with the arrogant, he is stern,
but to the humble he shows kindness.
Responsorial Psalm
PS 15:2-3A, 3-BC-4AB, 5

R. (1) The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.
He who walks blamelessly and does justice;
who thinks the truth in his heart
and slanders not with his tongue.
R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.
Who harms not his fellow man,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
By whom the reprobate is despised,
while he honors those who fear the LORD.
R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.
Who lends not his money at usury
and accepts no bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
shall never be disturbed.
R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.
LK 8:16-18

Jesus said to the crowd:
“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel
or sets it under a bed;
rather, he places it on a lampstand
so that those who enter may see the light.
For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible,
and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.
Take care, then, how you hear.
To anyone who has, more will be given,
and from the one who has not,
even what he seems to have will be taken away.”

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