BY FATHER JIM
Sometime back, I had the experience of a group of strangers and near strangers getting together for a dinner. They blended well, shared the time, the table and themselves with each other.
And I suggest that the same should be considered possible, and even necessary, when we gather for Eucharist.
Why tie the notion of hospitality together with our Sunday gatherings? Should these not be a time for prayer rather than socialization?
Some were taught that at Mass we kept our hands folded, our heads down and our eyes to ourselves. Everything was “God and I’ and others were not to get in the way!
That was the question before the Council of Fathers nearly 40 years ago. That was the question that took scholars back into antiquity searching for the roots of our Eucharist.
Prayer, certainly, but a unique sort of prayer. We gather for liturgical prayer, for public, communal prayer. We gather as a church to become more intensely church. And because we cannot be church in isolation, we cannot close each other out.
Was it you who spoke to the couple in the parking lot last Sunday? I heard the cheerful “good morning” you greeted them with.
Was it you, with happy smile and hearty handshake who greeted folks out in the vestibule between Masses or were you the one who noticed the visitors seated near you and introduced yourself, then accompanied them to the door and introduced them to Father?
Was it you who noticed a parishioner who looked a little “down” and took the time to talk to him? So many of us come to church with some burden. A gentle caring word speaks volumes.
Was it you who entertained some of our new parishioners at your home? If you’ve ever been new in a community, you know how much an invitation like that means. How important it is that we reach out to new members.
Was it you?
If it was, you were a blessing to those who are important to God. In many ways, you help Christ minister to people when you greet visitors, seek out the lonely and show hospitality to others.
This kind of positive, excited, happy attitude will do more to build up the body of Christ than anything else. And the wonderful thing about it is everyone can do it.