Just a Thought…
One of my favorite parts of the “job” at Old St. Pat’s is standing in front of the Church on a Sunday morning. Though it may not seem like much, I believe deeply in being present to you, the people of Old St. Pat’s, as you come forth from worship and enter the excitement and challenge of your worlds, wherever life takes you. Though our encounters may be brief, I appreciate very much even the small chance of connecting with someone I do not know but yet they have blessed this Church with their presence. I have coined the act of being outside on Sunday’s as “Des Plaines Street Ministry.” In a Church like ours, where members come from all over the city, suburbs, and northwest Indiana, trying to connect with you before you hit the byways and highways is really important.
Last week, I had another one of those great moments of meeting not only someone I did not know, but more importantly someone who was at Old St. Pat’s for the first time. Regretfully, I have forgotten the person’s name, but I was totally humbled by their gracious feedback and the positive experience this person had at Old St. Pat’s on a Sunday morning. But what thrilled me most of all after meeting this “first timer” on Des Plaines Street was what he told me when I asked him how he found his way here: a friend invited me. That may not seem like much, but I think invitation is so key not only to our success, but most importantly to what the mission of Jesus is all about.
It begins with an act of invitation. Jesus was about inviting his followers, his disciples, and the culture of his time to think in new ways. In keeping with the continuation of The Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s Gospel that we consider again today, Jesus invited and challenged his friends to consider new ways of living life. Imagine, according to Jesus, if you considered yourself Blessed and Salt and Light in the midst of a world that may not think much of you! Imagine if we actually went the extra mile, turned cheeks, offered cloaks, and even loved our enemies?! Jesus was about an invitation to live life differently.
I hope that what we are always about at Old St. Pat’s is Invitation. I hope and pray we always will find ourselves not only as the Invited Ones but also as the ones doing the inviting to our friends and to the strangers looking for ways to live life differently in the spirit of the Gospel. The life of Church is so different today in the 21st century. We are treading some new waters with respect to Church life. The Gospel message of Jesus is that we can always search for new ways to make it better, exciting, relevant, and more meaningful for us and for the world. We have to! Instead of “the invitation is always there” (which it is) and just wait for the guests to arrive, our greater challenge today is that we must be more animated and direct in our act of invitation.
In addition to the Sunday experience of Liturgy, there’s a lot going on at Old St. Pat’s. Keep inviting so we can keep our Church alive and strong.
See you on Des Plaines Street! Have a great week!