The Rio Olympics came to a close last Sunday night with the usual pageantry and ceremony, stunning costumes, and the passing of the Olympic flag to the next host city, Tokyo, Japan for the 2020 games. Super Mario will be the Olympic Games’ mascot. We live in a modern age with modern signs and figures.
Though we are not aspiring Olympic game competitors, we are often moved and inspired by the stories of those young men and women who do sacrifice so much time, give so much effort to participate in the games by spending years honing their skills in track and field, swimming, archery, weight lifting and so many other modern sports. For a few brief minutes or even a couple of hours, they spend their bodies and their hearts trying to win gold, a medal, and stand on a platform for recognition. What do we seek in life?
In preparation for this coming year’s evangelization initiatives, the Pastoral Council members are reading a book, “A Church on the Move” by Joe Paprocki. There are a number of studies and books examining the current state of the church, where we are, and where we can be going.
The author quotes Pope Francis “Fearlessly proclaim the Gospel of hope, bringing the Lord’s message into the brokenness of our time, tirelessly preaching forgiveness and the mercy of God” in his address to the Bishops of Zimbabwe, on February 6, 2014. More than most Pope Francis recognizes that people experience brokenness, and some recognize the need to be saved. But in our secular society other folks believe they don’t need to be saved, first from themselves and/or second from the situation in which they find themselves.
In this life we are always incomplete, sometimes bored and often restless. The perfect entry point for Madison Avenue to sell us what we then believe will fill the gap, make our lives complete, less bored and satisfied. In reality we are not nor ever will be self-sufficient. We are human beings interdependent on one another, with each other and for each other. Who can make a difference in our lives?
For people of faith, for believers, for Christians, Jesus Christ is God’s intervention states Paprocki. His statement is true. When we accept God’s amazing grace, profound changes can take place in our lives. No one’s life was dramatically changed by serving donuts, or raising money for the church or remodeling the sanctuary. We can be moved by God’s Amazing Grace when we listen to the words of the song written by a slave trader long ago. “I once was lost, but now I’m found.” Where does Christ find me at this stage in my life? Am I bored, experiencing incompleteness or simply restless? How do I connect with church, the parish, my faith, and most importantly with Jesus? If there was one thing you believe we should be doing as a parish, what would that one thing be? What is the one thing that would ease your brokenness, help you find meaning and purpose, and find moments of inner peace?
We are going to embark on a journey this year and see how Christ speaks to us, challenges us and at the same time is forever willing to be merciful and kind – offering us amazing grace. Let’s journey together.
Father Larry Hendel, Pastor