Pay particular attention to the second reading today – it’s to the Thessalonians… what does it tell you about them? What kind of people were they? If you met a Thessalonian on the street, what would you notice about them. And then… pray about what this might tell you about how you and I should be.
Homily:Let’s play a little word association game…. I’ll say a city – you tell me the first thing that comes to mind.
Vegas – sin city – gambling – casinos
Denver – Rocky Mtn High – mile high city
Philadelphia – brotherly love.
See – even if you haven’t been there, you know about these places. Other people have told us about these places and THEIR experiences… and we believe them.
I bring these up because of that second reading -
What kind of people were the Thessalonians? In case you didn’t catch it, let me point out a couple of things that Paul said – here is talking to the Thessalonians:
- “you became a model for all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. “
- “from you the word of the Lord has sounded in every place your faith in God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves openly declare…how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God”
In other words, these people were apparently such awesome Christians that word ABOUT them had spread throughout the area. Everybody knew that the Thessalonians were the role model – if you want to be a good Christian – go see how THEY live and try to be like them.
Makes you wonder – what do people say about OUR parish? When people hear of St. Raphael or St. Celestine, what words or images come to mind? Are we known for our Love of God? Are we known for our love of neighbor? Or are we just known for the tastiest fried chicken at our parish social or shoot?
When I was a kid in Newburgh, our pastor wanted our parish to have a different image… so I can remember a homily talking about nudging other people to come to church. Little prayer cards were passed out, we prayed it together all the time, and in time we really did become known as the ‘nudging parish’. See what happened there? The pastor set the vision… some simple actions were put into motion… and we ‘became’ that vision.
So – here’s the real question – what do we WANT people to say about our parish? Try something with your friends and coworkers – ask THEM what they think of when they hear St. Celestine or St. Raphael.? It would be interesting to do a survey and collect the results… but my guess is that the answers would be all over the map. Without a vision set out there, nobody is sure WHAT they’re supposed to believe about us.
I personally would like for people to say about St. Raphael/St. Celestine what Paul said about the Thessalonians…that we are a role model for all the believers. I want them to think of US as a Joyful, Welcoming, Compassionate, Evangelizing, Active Catholic Parish.
Here’s where it gets personal…. What would you and I have to do to make that happen? Jesus gives us an answer – Love the Lord your God with our whole heart, soul, and mind – and love our neighbor as ourselves.
Jesus is giving us the priority list… God first, Others second, and ourselves third. An easy way to remember that is the acronym for “JOY” - J –O-Y: Jesus, Others, Yourself.
When we put Jesus and others first PERSONALLY – then we personally become a Joyful, Welcoming, Compassionate, Evangelizing, Active Catholic person… and when we all learn to love like that, then our parish becomes the role model for all and people will travel from around the world to learn from us how to live as a Christian.