Congratulations to the whole parish of St. Jude. You have accomplished another goal as our parish continues to grow in God’s grace. Thanks to all who have supported this effort financially. For those who have made significant sacrifices, may God bless you for your service to the work of our community. This effort is not merely to improve our “work space.” It is to be further evidence of the light and grace of God flowing through our parish to the community that we are called to serve.
One of the mysteries of our Faith that we should receive with great joy is the mystery of the parish community. There are times when we feel strongly motivated to a deep affection for our parish. At these times it is a community in every sense of the word. We want to pile up descriptive words, especially those that relate to the “family.” A priest understands this on a daily basis, especially because of the use of the title “Father.” The community is not like a corporation or even a team, these are words that never occur in the New Testament.
It is curious that there seems to have been something of an evolution of the use of the Greek word “ecclesia” (from which comes the word ecclesiastical, having to do with the church.) Originally the word synagogue and church were completely interchangeable. Gradually, the paths divided and our Jewish brothers and sisters stopped using the word “church” and preferred the word “synagogue.” The Christians did the same thing, only preferring the word “church”. Under this there was a division between the synagogue and the church that is reflected in the use of words. It is with sorrow that this division was recognized by the first Christians. St. Paul remembers it with great sadness:
I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and separated from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kin according to the flesh. (Romans 9:1-3 NAB)
It is with great humility that we should approach the community of the Church. God has given us the assurance of His acceptance of us. Through the Church we are made part of the Body of His Son:
He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell... (Colossians 1:13-19 NAB)
It is not by chance that we have been brought to this place in our journey. We are guided every day to the work God has given us. We should be ready, always, to spring into action at His call, for we are his beloved children, members of the Body of his Son.