One Sunday three decades ago I was distraught over the collapse of the strong parish community I had enjoyed for over a decade. A new pastor had come in, and a better preacher had been installed in the parish down the road. Within a few months the vibrant, warm, packed-to-the-gills Sunday Masses had deteriorated, and most of the friends with whom I shared Sunday had moved to the other parish. It was so painful.
This particular Sunday I stopped by to visit a friend. He did then, and still does to this day, spend the early morning hours in prayer with the Scriptures. We talked for awhile about the dwindling numbers and the lackluster preaching, and then we fell silent for a few minutes.
What are you reading today? He looked down at the Bible on the table, open to the fourth chapter of John’s Gospel, and read the Samaritan woman’s challenge to Jesus: Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you people say the place to worship is Jerusalem.
Huh. So questions about who’s got the best parish have been around at least since the day Jesus went out of his way to find that heartbroken woman, in the heat of the day, at a well that her great ancestor Jacob had dug. He invited her into friendship with himself, and she left everything behind to tell the world about him. Now that’s true worship, in Spirit and in truth.
Sharing God’s Word at Home:
Are there ways that you can build up your parish and the worshipping community?
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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).