Last week’s gospel inspired me to reflect on the pervasive, persistent nature of God’s grace. Even the people who know Jesus best, his family and those in his hometown who know where he came from and his identity as a carpenter and that he is “one of them,” are perplexed at the mighty deeds he performs. They end up taking exception with him. They have actually put him in a box and relate to him with limited faith based on what they THINK they know. Their lack of faith amazes Jesus.
Perhaps that is not so unfamiliar to us as we limit our faith or experience of someone or something, placing them in a box based on limited knowledge.
What moves us out of the box? GRACE. It opens us up with its pervasiveness and persistence. It urges us to believe in God as well as to know him.
As Catholics we have a long history of regulating grace. We often approach it as something we must earn. Even that limits Gods grace. It places it in a box.
This week’s passage from Mark tells us that Jesus commissions the disciples. He sends them out and they preach, they are a force to challenge evil, they are focused, they are able to heal – all because Jesus has given them authority.
All of this opens them up to receive the grace of God that moved them out of a box that saw them as fishermen who were not sure what Jesus was asking them, who were repeatedly reprimanded by Jesus perhaps because they thought that they “knew” him. A simple way of stating this is that God’s grace, through Jesus Christ, met their willingness to go out, and the result was far beyond what they thought they could accomplish, far beyond the box they were in prior to this commissioning.
Adventures in Grace: A Pilgrimage
I believe that we are in a unique moment in history and in the history of Holy Family. As we recover from a pandemic and look to our future strategically, our staff, leadership and parishioner councils have urged us to move forward with several initiatives. Perhaps the most important is to re-engage existing parishioners and to engage new members to join our community, meaning to become more invested in our mission. We have such a strong history of vitality that has led us this far. We must continue to build on that strength, and look to the future with renewed vigor and creativity evolving into an even more vibrant community.
Please familiarize yourself regularly with our revised mission statement available on our website and in our bulletins and soon to be displayed (as our current one is), above the entrance to our church and in our multitorium:
Our mission is to empower all to experience new life in Christ through
sacramental living, transformative worship, lifelong spiritual growth
and community in service to others.
One initiative to fulfill our mission is a yearlong program of spiritual renewal entitled, Adventures in Grace: A Pilgrimage. This initiative is being supported by your generosity in our recent Providing for Our Family’s Future Capital Campaign. It is a collaboration with Soul Play, a unique ministry led by Terry Nelson-Johnson and Laura Field. Terry and Laura are the driving forces behind the Beloved Retreats that we have held in partnership with them for the past several years and they are leaders at Old St. Patrick’s parish in the city.
I am asking ALL of you to be attentive to the details of this pilgrimage that will be introduced this summer and begin in earnest on the weekend of September 25 and 26. I am asking ALL of you to invest in this parish wide initiative of renewal. I am asking ALL of you to participate. I am asking that you make this a priority to the extent that you replace some of your existing ministry activities or programs with the ones offered by this Pilgrimage, or meld them with your programs.
This is a time of starting over, opening up and reshaping much of our lives post-pandemic. We are ready to re-engage and I believe the time is now for Holy Family to re-engage our faithful contingent and to reach out to engage newcomers.