One of the things we hear time and again in the Acts of the Apostles is that the number of believers grew. We hear it again today in our first reading: “… almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.”
Think about all the different places in society that become filled to capacity. Stadiums for football, baseball, basketball, etc., theaters for concerts, restaurants to dine, planes when we travel, and the list goes on. Yet, Sunday after Sunday, for one of the greatest marvels that occurs in the world, our pews are not full.
When the great miracle was going to take place in Fatima on the 13th of October 1917, thousands of people flocked to the village to get a glimpse. At every Mass, we have the miracle of the Eucharist, that bread and wine become for us the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus. The God who became one like us in all things wants to be one with us in our reception of Holy Communion. This should fill our churches. And for us who see the empty churches and understand this reality, it must become an intention we pray for often — for our churches to be full.
Jesus also said in the Gospel, “My sheep hear my voice.” We need to pray that those who have gone astray or down another path will hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and find their way back to Sunday Mass. At Mass, they will hear His voice in the Scriptures proclaimed and in the depths of their heart when He makes His home with them. Pray for open ears among God’s people.
When the whole city begins to gather again like it did in the early Church, packing the churches, it will be a sign of us listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd. And when we listen, we will hear His call and respond. If our prayer for full churches is answered, we will need more priests to serve them. This will come from our prayer and open ears and hearts by all the sheep to hear God’s voice. Let us pray this weekend for the sheep to come home and increase our numbers and for more shepherds to guide them.
Fr. Looney pastors the Catholic parishes in Brussels and Lincoln/Rosiere. He also hosts the podcast “How They Love Mary.”