Coming and going, together

Church window. Image courtesy of

Today we celebrate the Ascension of Christ and especially his Great Commission to the apostles.

I have been thinking a lot about how all people, and especially families, can help each other to bring more peace and unity into the Church, and ultimately, out into the world.  Families are a huge part of the fabric of the Church.  Parents can, and must, teach their young children and young people how to live as good Catholics, and share their faith with others.  Even if we are not parents we can help to guide each other in the Church.

But it is more and more obvious that breakdowns in families, the absence of fathers or mothers, and fluid definitions of what families are these days has caused a lot of confusion and fragmentation in the world, and in our Church.  Not everyone has a father.  Not everyone has a mother.  Not everyone has a family unit.  A parent may have died or left their children.  But even so, you see, the beauty and duty of the Catholic Church is to step in.  Get involved.  Together.

The Church is God’s family.  We are all responsible for coming together and sharing our love and faith with each other at Mass and in our communities, no matter what our age or stage of life is.  It saddens me deeply sometimes that there is segregation in our churches.  Older people come to church and may feel left out or unwanted.  Young people may not feel that they belong and so search for other ways ‘to be entertained’ or fulfilled.  Singles may feel ignored.  Those who are grieving may be suffering in silence.  What is the solution to the sadness and loneliness that many of us may be carrying inside?  It is such a heavy burden, but one that we need not bear alone if people cared enough.

As always, our solution is in Scripture.  We are one body.  One in Jesus Christ.

“…so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” – Romans 12:5

How many times have we read or heard this at Mass?  One body.  And yet many of us leave our churches still feeling a sense of isolation.  There should be absolutely no reason why anyone in our Church should feel disconnected.  The human being next to us in the pews is our brother or sister.  Our daughter or son.  Our aunt or uncle.  Our friend.  We do not reach out because we are afraid to.  We are surrounded by news of terror.  We are frightened of rejection.  We are forever seeking riches apart from Christ.  We are scared to connect.  This is not how our Church was meant to be!

Jesus preached, healed, and loved the young and old together.  Women, men, children – everyone prayed and nourished their souls, together.  He mended the hearts and spirits of all who came to Him.  Doesn’t that say something about how our churches should be operating too?  United.  Together.  Never separate but always coming as one family to listen to God’s Word, to absorb it, then come up with ideas about how we can live God’s messages in practical ways in our daily lives.  Give food to the hungry.  Visit those who are grieving.  Taking action together to reach out to support your fellow Catholics.

And yet, many may say that they are too busy with work, their own families, studies, holidays, or other activities.  And this is true.  Modern life is exhausting.  But imagine this: if every person did one positive thing for their faith each week with others, for even one hour, what a difference we could make!  We are one body with many members (1 Corinthians 12:12-31) and are capable of more if only we could look beyond our fears and unite.

There are wonderful things happening everywhere in our churches and many of them are not heard of.  Often it is because these people and efforts are done with great humility and quiet service.  But if we are not doing anything for God – exercising an active faith – then it is time to step up, otherwise, why dare to call ourselves Christ’s followers?

Our beautiful Catholic Church and faith is God’s gift to us.  All of us as laypeople, priests, and religious have a personal responsibility to take action to fulfil Christ’s Great Commission, just like the first disciples.  He didn’t say, “Well, if you have time, once you’ve amassed your riches, once you’ve reached a certain age, after you get that job or promotion, etc.”  In other words, there were no excuses.  He said “Go into all the world and preach the good news…”.  Plain and simple.  Do it.

We might be afraid that our efforts may not stick or that ridicule may hit us in the face.  But fear is not what the Lord wanted for us.  Did He not say that He would always be with us “…surely…to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20)?

You see, I think that the Great Commission applies to everyone.  Everyone is capable of doing something.  If you have been told or feel that you cannot because you are too old, young, busy, stupid, poor, sophisticated, etc. then don’t believe it.  Alone, we may feel weak to do anything, but as one we are strong.  Really, it can be simple.

Come to Mass.  Together.
Reflect on God’s Word.  Together.
Learn.  Keep trying.  Wait.  Together.
Take action when He speaks to your heart.

Coming and going, we can do great things in His name.  Together.

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