2017.6.25 - Missionary Parish

Rev. C. Jarrod Lies - Sun, Jun 25

Runtime: 00:12:51

Sermon Transcript

2017.6.25 – A Missionary Parish
• There is a certain fantastic appeal to being a missionary. Perhaps you, like me, have sometimes fantasized about going to a foreign country to preach the Gospel.

• St. Thérèse of Lisieux did. She said, “I would travel to every land to preach Thy name, O my Beloved… I would spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth… I would be a Missionary” (The Story of a Soul, pp. 181–182).
• But the truth is this: if we do not have a missionary heart in our own home, workplace or parish, being a missionary anywhere else will ever only be a fantasy.

• “A parish cannot be a closed or inward looking community, but rather, missionary, outward-looking, welcoming and inclusive in all that it does” (Williamson).

• Pope Francis himself, in his most recent Encyclical, challenges parishes to become missionary” “The parish … can assume quite different contours depending on the openness and missionary creativity of the pastor and the community. … if it proves capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity, …it can be a community of communities… and a center of constant missionary outreach. (Evangelii Gaudium #28).
• As Pope Francis continues, “Mere administration can no longer be enough… the parish must be “permanently in a state of mission” (Evangelii Gaudium #22).

• And indeed, “Missionary outreach is paradigmatic for all the Church’s activity… we need to move “from a pastoral ministry of mere conservation to a decidedly missionary pastoral ministry” (Evangelii Gaudium, p. 6)
• It is time for us to fantasize anew about being missionary, not in a foreign country, but in our own parish.

• “All of us are called to take part in this new missionary “going forth.” … to obey Jesus’ call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium #22).
• No longer can we think that this is the job of a priest or a nun. It is everyone’s job. “All the members of the People of God are missionary disciples… and calls for a personal involvement from each of the baptized” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium #120).
• When I was a child I used to dream about preaching native peoples like the Saints of old. But now it is a time for us to have a new dream. A dream that Pope Francis shares with us too, “I dream of a “missionary option,” that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything… parishes must become more mission-oriented” (Evangelii Gaudium #27). Let us envision our parish as a true mission.

• Recently, during World Youth Day, Polish Bishops asked Pope Francis how to strengthen a Catholic Parish. One Bishop asked, “Holy Father, our pastoral work is based largely on the traditional model of the parish community, centered on the sacramental life… Is there a specific way you can encourage us to build up the Church community in our world fruitfully, joyfully and with a missionary spirit?” Pope Francis’ response was very clear and direct and helps us think deeply of our own parish.

• “I would like to stress one thing: the parish remains valid! The parish must remain. It is a structure that we must not discard; it is the home of God’s People. The problem is how the parish is organized! There are parishes… who scare people off. Parishes with closed doors… But there also parishes with open doors, parishes where when someone comes to ask a question, they are told: “Come in, make yourself at home, what can we do for you?” And someone listens to them patiently, because caring for the people of God requires patience; it takes effort!

• Managing a parish takes effort nowadays, with so many problems. The Lord has asked us to get a little tired, to work and not to rest… A parish is exhausting if it is well organized. The renewal of the parish has to be a constant concern. How is this parish doing? What is it doing? What is its religious education program like? How well is catechesis being presented? Is the church open? How do we greet people? How attentive are we to them? Is someone always in the confessional? A welcoming parish…. These are the questions we bishops should be asking our priests. “Do you go out? Do you visit the imprisoned, the sick, the elderly? What about the children? Do you have a place for them to play?”

• So the parish is important! The parish… has to remain as a place of creativity, a reference point, a mother, all these things. It is where that inventiveness has to find expression. When a parish does all this, it becomes – with regard to missionary disciples – what I call a “parish that goes forth”. To be creative, to try to go out and meet people, to put yourself in people’s shoes. This is what it means to be a missionary disciple, a parish that goes forth. To go out and look for people, as God did, when he sent his Son to find us.”

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Presented by: Rev. C. Jarrod Lies
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