This Sunday is the second of three times during Lent where the same Gospel will not be heard in every Catholic church. Parishes who have catechumens preparing for the Easter sacraments have the option of hearing the Gospel account of the man born blind. The rest of us will be hearing about the prodigal son.
I am sure this story leaves many older siblings shaking their head and saying, "I know just how that older brother felt." We work hard, are obedient, save for the future and are responsible, because after all, we are "the good son." Then comes the younger, squandering ingrate, who seems to do everything wrong and in the end is given as much, if not more, compassion and respect.
I am sure many of us regularly have this story play out in our secular lives, but what about our church lives? Is there sibling rivalry in the church? Consider the 10-year member of the choir who has never missed a rehearsal, while a one-year choir member has been asked to cantor at the Easter Vigil. The same holds true for other parish ministries. You practice, keep your schedule, try hard, but are never invited to be a minister for a really big feast.
It does not stop there. This Lent, many of us are in the role of the older sibling. We have been faithful members of the church, attend Mass every Sunday, give of our time, talent and treasure. If the parish has a need we respond, yet who is getting the extra attention this season? "Catholics Come Home."
It would be so easy to slip into a "poor me" attitude, but if indeed we are "older and wiser" we know what Eucharist demands of us. We are called to extreme hospitality, as Christ himself is the essence. We need to make room at the table for everyone, especially those we feel don’t deserve to be there.
Consider how blessed we are to be the "older sibling of the church." Let us be grateful for the years of grace and opportunities we can claim. We have the reassurance of Jesus’ words, "You are always with me, and everything I have is yours." Perhaps the challenge God is giving us this Lent is to turn to those in our parish who are younger in the faith or younger in ministry. For those who are walking through the door for the first time in many years, say to them, "you are one with me in this parish family and all I have, I am willing to share with you." Move over in your pew, someone is looking for a place to sit.
Zahorik is director of worship at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Oshkosh. She has a master’s degree in liturgical studies.