Last weekend, I shared with you the Pastoral Planning proposal from Archbishop Lori, in which the parishes of the Archdiocese are arranged into “pastorates.” As you have hopefully seen, the arrangement for our two parishes has not changed from what we have been living for the past four years. However, that does not mean that we do not have more work to do!
We are a Pastorate – a community of faith, united, formed from Our Lady of Hope and St. Luke Parishes – with a mission. That mission is evangelization – sharing a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ with all people in our community. The shaping of our Parishes into one community of faith is not, therefore, an administrative move; it is a pastoral one, with discipleship and mission at its heart.
What does it take to accomplish this mission? How are we called to carry our Christ’s charge to us to make disciples of all nations? What are our tools?
First and foremost, our greatest tool is prayer. Prayer connects us to God and helps to clarify His will in our lives. Jesus has called us together as a community of faith to accomplish the work of the Church in this particular place and time. There is a reason I am here in Edgemere and Dundalk; there is a reason you are a parishioner of St. Luke or Our Lady of Hope. The reason is the mission!
Secondly, we need humility. Humility is a tool, a spiritual tool that opens us up to God and one another so that He can act and use us to accomplish wonderful things.
Consider the men in the Gospel today. Observe how they act.
First, the Pharisee: The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself…
He prays, not to God, but to himself! He is not open to God, but instead he is closed in on himself. This separates him from others, and it hinders him from true relationship with others. “Thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity!” I dare say, this could sometimes be experienced here, as “Thank God I am not like Dundalk!” “Thank God I am not like Edgemere!”
By contrast, the tax collector prays with humility: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” This is a man who knows where he stands before God. He still approaches, but with care, with openness, with humility. Because of this openness, Jesus tells us, the tax collector went away justified, not the Pharisee.
What can this mean for us? When we open ourselves up in humility, when we undertake a program of prayer, we are allowing God to begin His work in us. The Church’s work is the work of the Holy Spirit, who gives each of us gifts to bring about the fullness of the Kingdom, and who places us all together in order to accomplish that work.
The lesson that Jesus teaches us this weekend is one that will guide us through the coming months of planning and decision. Humbly, we can enter into new, faith-filled relationships with one another, and I know that we will all experience a missionary conversion that will drive us all out to the community to share the Gospel with everyone who passes through the North Point Peninsula.
Take time each day to pray for the success of our mission – it is the mission of the Church – to live the Gospel and make disciples of everyone we meet. The Eucharist nourishes us for this task, and Jesus will bring it to fulfillment. Let’s open ourselves up to this wonderful work and rejoice to see it come to life in our midst.