A word from our Pastor

One of the ways we can build up our parish community spirit is to greet one another as Mass begins. I make it a point to go up to people I have not yet met nor seen for a while before Mass and to welcome them by saying hello. A simple smile and word of welcome goes a long way. In today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, it says that “The community of believers was of one heart and mind… and they shared everything in common.” In other words, the Resurrection of Jesus was not only something they witnessed on the Sunday He rose from the dead, but also every Sunday when they gathered in community for the Eucharist. This was shown by their welcoming one another in Christ. We have great people in our parish, but most people do not know it. They just know a few close friends perhaps. It would be so easy when you are on your way to church or after Mass to just go up to someone you don’t know, put out your hand and say: Hello, I’m so and so. What’s your name?” Wouldn’t it feel strange if someone would come up to me and say “Father, I have been coming to this church for a few years now and nobody says hello to me.” It happens. I believe it happens not out of malice, but out of habit. We are so used to staying with the people we know best, family and friends. If we look at the Gospel today, we hear the story of “Doubting Thomas.” I always felt he got a bad rap by being labeled a doubter. For was he not the first disciple to call Jesus: “My Lord and my God!” You see, Thomas was not with the community the first time when Jesus appeared. Maybe he was daring enough to go out for food and supplies while the others huddled together in fear of the Romans. Maybe he was depressed and wanted to be left alone; maybe he just went out for a walk. For whatever reason, Thomas missed getting to see Jesus. Could not the reason be that he was absent from the community? When Jesus appeared a 2nd time, Thomas was present with the community. Then Thomas came to believe. The point I am making is how powerful it is to be part of the community at Mass every Sunday. Because the faith community can help each one of us feel more strongly connected to our faith. Though Jesus loves it when we develop a personal relationship with Him, He always is more powerfully present through our participation with community. This happens through our participation in the Sacraments and our service to one another. Let ‘s be more attuned to welcome the stranger.    ~ Fr. John

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