Welcome, Sinners

The pastor is boring and his homilies put you to sleep.  The only time he gets excited is when he’s asking for money for some project or other.  The choir director chooses songs that no one can sing and that would sound better sung around a campfire than during Mass around the altar of God.  There’s a clique of women in the church who control everything that goes on and make it their duty to discourage any new ideas.  The youth program spends more time raising money for parties and trips than it does teaching the Gospel.  The church building is ugly and in need of repairs and don’t even ask about the parking lot mess!  The men’s group is great at arranging golf dates but that’s about all they do.  There’s no place to put the crying babies during Mass.  The social hall is a crowded and delapidated cavern where no one cleans up after themselves.  The audio system is terrible, the carpet needs replacing and the whole place could use a new paint job.  And the people in the pews?  They sit stone-faced and unsmiling, like they’re next in line at the dentist’s office.  Most of them seem spiritually asleep, or worse.

 
Sound familiar?  Maybe you’ve been a member of a parish where some of these comments were true.  Or maybe they’re true of the church you attend right now.  One thing you can be sure of:  there’s no such thing as a perfect parish.  Every faith family is like our earthly family, made up of imperfect, flawed people who love God and each other in our own imperfect and flawed ways.  We struggle with doubt and unbelief.  We hang on to past hurts and grievances.  We’re impatient and demanding at times, unkind and hurtful at others.  We don’t love consistently or very well.  We’re selfish and short-sighted and rarely forgive the trespasses of others.  In short, we’re sinners.
 
And yet God always says to us, “Follow Me.”  You.  Yes, you.  That sinner in the fourth pew, aisle seat on the lefthand side of the church.  “You.  Follow Me.”  Because it’s not about the pastor or the music or the parking lot.  It’s not about the men’s group or the ladies’ group or the youth group.  The size of the church doesn’t matter.  What matters is what you do in response to His call to follow Him.  You can worship in a grand cathedral with marble and gold everywhere and if you don’t have a love relationship with Jesus Christ, your heart will be as dry as dust.  Because we’re sinners, sometimes we focus on what’s not so important and let those inconvenient details of parish life distract us from Whom we come together to worship.  Mass isn’t something the Church invented to keep us entertained.  Mass is the celebration of His sacrifice that Jesus gave to His Church at the Last Supper.  More than that, the Mass is the very same sacrifice of Christ on His Holy Cross.  When you’re in the pew next Sunday, you’re answering part of Jesus’ call to love and to know Him.  Don’t let the small stuff get in the way of the most important relationship you’ll ever have.  Follow Him with your whole heart.  Love Him with your whole life.  Let Him share His life with you.  Let your life bear the fruit of Christ in your parish.  Follow Him and let your light shine.
 
“The best argument against Christianity is…..Christians.” 
                                   — G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
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