October 6, 2019
Every Sunday, for several months now, we have been praying “A Prayer for our Parish” before mass. In time, we have become familiar with the words of this prayer. But we have not really reflected together on its meaning, and I believe it is definitely worthy of reflection. So, here we go!
This week I want to talk about what the prayer calls our “great mission”. In everyday language, to have a mission means that we have been given a job to do. And, that our life together as Catholic Christians has a purpose, a goal. That mission, that purpose, the prayer continues, is to “evangelize and witness the Father’s love to the world.”
No doubt you remember hearing something from the pulpit about the mission of evangelizing over the past year, and I will return to that topic. But notice also, that our mission includes witnessing the Lord’s love to the world.
We Catholics have done a good job of teaching about this part of our mission, and in trying to live it out. Love God and love your neighbor, is our Lord’s great commandment, and many of the best things about our parish reflect this. I think of our generosity in supporting a Syrian refugee family, and our commitment to the poor through St. Vincent de Paul collections at the door, and our support for the new store here in Brantford. In these ways (and others) we are truly witnessing the Father’s love to the world. There is always room for improvement, but our mission to witness the Lord’s love to others is accepted with enthusiasm. And I have been truly inspired by your enthusiasm and energy in fulfilling this part of our mission.
When it comes to evangelizing, we Catholics often seem less clear about our mission, and how we can fulfill those responsibilities. Of course, the witness of love is also a powerful force for evangelization. Indeed it is necessary. But we are – generally — less clear on how evangelizing fits with our Catholic faith, and it somehow can seem a little bit less of a priority when compared to the very real human needs of the poor. And in truth, it is more difficult to point to practical examples of how we have responded to this part of our “great mission.”
But the truth is that we have nothing more valuable to give anyone – our friends, family, neighbours, and even the poor — than a chance to meet the Lord. That means that evangelizing is something that should hold at least the same place in our hearts and lives as our witness of love. It is something we should pray for (as we are now doing), something we should work for, and something we should be willing to support – as we are being asked to do in the current One Heart One Soul capital campaign. Here on our web site you can find audio from a homily series (“St. Pius Parish Rebuilt”) that speaks to the place of evangelization in our parish as well one speaking to how we as individuals can evangelize in a generous, non-threatening way (“Letting down our nets”).
So as we continue to pray a prayer for our parish, let’s invite the Holy Spirit to truly open our hearts to the great mission of evangelizing and witnessing the Lord’s love to the world