In the past months our Gospels have set us on a challenging journey. For many weeks, we heard that Jesus is holy food for us. Now we are being told what Jesus expects of those who eat that holy food. To rely on an old adage, we cannot “eat and run.” If we eat Eucharist, then we are people of Eucharist; doing good, in the name of Jesus.
Do you look at your parish annual report? If so, do you see only the bottom line; money in and money out, and then shake your head because the latter is always more than the former? Try looking further. Does your parish contribute to charity and the doing of good works? Does the report show what your parish has given to diocesan collections or the volunteer hours that were committed to charities in your area? More importantly, can you say that you were part of those collections or projects?
Did you support the Bishop’s Appeal this year? Are you aware of how much charity and good work is accomplished through this collection? Most recently, we were asked to support the Seminarian Collection. God may plant the seed of the vocation, but God expects us to tend and water the seed. If you have not already done so, live out your belief in the Eucharist, by investing in the young men who will one day help to bring the Eucharist to all people in all times. Granted, a variety of special collections are brought to our parishes each year. It is easy to say, “All they want is money.” Listen to the Gospel. All Jesus wants is for us to be what we eat, to live like Jesus, for the sake of the kingdom. Think what could happen if each registered unit in a parish gave to each special collection $10, which is less than the cost of a movie ticket and box of popcorn. By God’s grace, many are able to give more than that, but listen to what the letter of James is saying to those of us who give nothing; “If you say … keep warm, eat well … but do not give … what good is it?”
What activities in your parish require you to take up your cross for the good of others? These days, time is a big cross to carry. It seems as if we never have enough time in a day, so giving some to the needs of parish outreach can be a real trial. Take up your cross. Volunteer at your local St. Vincent de Paul. Take a turn serving meals at a nearby homeless shelter. Is your parish involved in Habitat for Humanity? Swing a hammer or grab a broom. If you do not think your parish is doing works of charity, ask questions. You may find many areas that need your help. If you do not see works of charity being done, ask more questions. “Why is our parish not involved with helping the poor … and how can I help to make that happen?”
Even in our charity we have the opportunity to participate in the New Evangelization. In my parish “one size fits all” aprons were printed with our parish name and logo. When we are doing works of charity in the city, wearing the aprons is a quiet way to evangelize.
This Sunday as you listen to the Gospel, consider what you will do when you leave the pew. Decide on how you will say, “I belong to _______ Parish; this is who we are, this is how we live as the body of Christ.”
Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.