Let it first and foremost be known that I DO NOT LIKEN MYSELF TO OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, BUT…I am what I eat and I am FILLED with Jesus, so in essence, I pray the Light of Christ Shines within me where I travel.
I am a convert to the Faith and my former denomination was Lutheran. One thing Lutherans have always done well, no matter where you go in the Country, they welcome people into their churches. They love to fellowship, welcome, hug and love on people, especially when they see someone in church they do not know. I have found this very evident when I travel to Florida to see my parents who are still Lutheran.
We as Catholic's have SO FAR TO GO in reaching out to others and ESPECIALLY in letting Christ show within us at the Parish. This applies to both the Laity and ESPECIALLY Priests and Deacons. I went to Church this morning at a local Parish here in the central portion of Florida. What a beautiful building this Parish is; absolutely fabulous with so many ornate paintings and mosaics to our Blessed Mother, and other biblical depictions. The grounds were manicured to perfection and from the outside it is very inviting. Once I sat down, it was extremely disappointing; although the Church – building itself – was so beautiful, it was so empty and Christ was once again…(as many of you who know me, know that I have said this so many times) LOCKED IN THE BOX!
People (Catholic's) why do we continue to do this…and then we wonder why we are losing people from our faith at an alarming rate. We wonder why YOUNG people are absent from our Parishes and we also wonder why the Young Adults are not present as well. It is because we keep Jesus – LOCKED IN THE BOX! The Priest was so none inviting, as if it was just "another day in the office".
Yes this was a weekday Mass, but the Parish was filled with almost 100 people. It more than likely seats well over 1,000, but they were the "frozen chosen", who attend Mass on a daily basis. They MUMBLED through the recitation of the prayers, some faster than others in the "COMMUNITY", but yet we had Christ; we ate His Body, we Drank His Precious Blood…but then…the Priest put Him BACK IN THE BOX! The Priest did not exude Christ, out of all the attendees, only ONE LOVELY LITTLE OLD LADY, as I was on my way out the front door, she and I were the ONLY TWO LEFT in the Church after it was over, because we both stayed to pray…and she said… "Welcome to our Church young man", as she was walking away from me, to which I exuberantly responded, "THANK YOU VERY MUCH MA'AM!"
People, (Catholics) if Jesus showed up in our Parishes, in our Church one morning, would we welcome Him, or would we treat Him like we treat most visitors and ignore Him. Would we extend a TRUE sign of Peace to Him, during the Liturgy, or would be just fluff Him off with a, Peace sign and that's it.
My brothers and sisters, Jesus IS COMING BACK! You and I do not know the day or the time, but HE IS COMING BACK!!! Will we be ready to receive Him? Do YOU know what He looks like? HINT – HINT – HINT – He looks like the bum on the street that does not smell so good, who is calling out for help. He is in the mother with 5 kids, who asks you at the gas station for assistance. He is in the people who we are uncomfortable in speaking too. HE IS IN THE FORM OF THE NEW PERSON IN THE PARISH that is a visitor. Will you welcome Him…or will you mumble your way through the Mass and rush out the door, or rush to your ministry meeting. Jesus is in YOU and I and we have to take time to SEE and HEAR HIM…we hear His CRY in each of us who are suffering and in need. Will YOU stop and listen to the Jesus who is standing right next to you in Mass, in the Grocery Store, or even in the same HOUSE as we are in…JESUS is coming back…WILL YOU BE able to see Him? Let's STOP KEEPING JESUS LOCKED IN THE BOX and let HIM be seen in each one of us!
Peace be with you.