Dear fellow Parishioners,
Today is Home Mission Sunday – a day we are invited to pray for and support the Church’s work of Evangelisation in our own country.
As Baptised Christians we evangelise best by our witness to our faith in our daily lives: generously helping someone in need, for example, or not drinking alcohol in Lent when going out with workmates to the pub on a Friday, or by a teenager having the courage to come to Mass on Sunday despite his or her friends’ mockery. To do this we have to renew our own commitment constantly. As Pope Francis says, “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk”. So take some time to reflect on your relationship with Christ. Do you devote time to prayer? Does your lifestyle mirror your commitment to Christ?
Secondly, we need to reflect on our family life. So, parents: how do you pass on the faith to your children, and are you transmitting God’s values to them? Children: what do you do to help family life? What can you do to make the world a better place? As members of a family we evangelise best by our witness in our daily lives: coming to Mass every Sunday, praying together and working together as a family.
Thirdly, we need to reflect on the life of our parish family. As a parish we evangelise by the witness of our shared commitment to parish support for others: support of the food bank; the work of the SVP and Eucharist Ministers who take the Church and Communion to the housebound and to care homes; catechists and teachers who sacrifice time to prepare our children for First Communion; the HTCP and Right to Life sponsored walks; the RCIA team – to name but a few. Are you a part of these and other activities. And if you are unable to actively support these, do you pray for them?
Fourthly, we are called, to quote Pope Francis, to reach out to “the baptised whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism, who lack a meaningful relationship to the Church and no longer experience the consolation born of faith.” Research suggests that an estimated 80% of Catholics in England and Wales rarely or never attend Mass. They are our responsibility; they are members of our faith family. We must try to find out why they are not participating in our community’s faith life, to find ways of attracting them back to the practice of the faith, and to be welcoming when they do return. People do reconnect, they do come back!
God does not hold grudges and does not demand an accounting. He offers simply a “Welcome home.” But we are the ones who must deliver the invitation!