Because of Memorial Day, this letter needed to be ready by May 23rd, so I submitted it the day before my operation. I will have an update in the letter next week. Thank you for your continued prayers.
This weekend we celebrate the feast of the Ascension of the Lord. I have always smiled during the first reading when the two men in white garments say to the disciples, "Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?” It is like they are saying, “He’s gone, get over it, move on.” In other words, “He has done His part, now you must do yours.”
That is why the Ascension is important. If Jesus had stayed around, all the focus would be on Him. But He had done His part, finishing by giving the great Commission as His last words before ascending: Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
The point is that our primary focus needs to be on proclaiming the Gospel, especially by how we live. That is what it means to be a Christian: we are evangelizers! For some the concept “to evangelize” is negative, thinking of Evangelicals who might have been pushy or invasive. That is more correctly called proselytizing and that is not what I mean by “evangelizing.”
We are called to live in such a way that others say, “see how they love one another,” or ask us, “How come you are always so happy?” or “How can you have such a positive attitude when the world is so messed up?” etc. Then we have the opportunity to share a little bit what our Faith means to us, inviting the other person in. The words attributed to St. Francis say it well: Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words. That is what I mean by “evangelizing.”
Our parish goal for 2019-2020 has been presented to you recently. I repeat it:
Energize and grow our membership by providing a welcoming environment with strong adult formation and activities for all ages to foster spiritual growth and a strong desire to make disciples of all people.
This goal is simply inviting us to make sure we are growing in our ability to live the Gospel in such a way that we are cooperating with the grace of God as He invites people to live a life of Gospel values. Ultimately, it isn’t our work, it is God’s. But He need and wants our cooperation.
I invite us this week to reflect on our goal, asking ourselves what we can do to help the community move forward as a place where people encounter other people inflamed with joy, as they live the command to “love one another.” And let us support each other in prayer.
-- Paul James Portland, SDS