28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Homily

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Wisdom 7:7-11
Psalm 90:12-13, 14-15, 16-1
Hebrews 4:12-13
Mark 10:17-30
October 11, 2015

Our responsorial verse speaks of asking God to fill us with His Love so that we might sing for joy!  Do we make known the joy we have in the Lord?

Hebrews describes the Word of God as “living and effective.”  God’s Word as found in scripture was written 2,000 years ago but it still is relevant it today.  We need to study it with an understanding of the context it was written in and then apply it to today but it is still relevant as a “living” document.  As to its effective, perhaps we should each ask ourselves what difference has God’s Word made in our lives?  Have we been changed by what we hear?  God’s Word is effective on us today.

When we embrace the faith that God has given us, it makes life better.  It doesn’t mean all our problems are eliminated.  Some problems may go away but some may remain.  That doesn’t mean God’s Word hasn’t been effective.  Sometimes God shows us a way through our problems or simply helps to understand that sometimes what we see as an important problem isn’t.

In what God does in our lives we can find peace and comfort. Do others see that in us?  Often, the best way to share our faith with others is to let them see the difference it means for us.

Do we show peace in our lives?  Do we show joy?

I’d like to talk about “welcome presence”.  You may remember that a couple of years ago our Parish Pastoral Council did a survey to help us understand what people thought of our parish.  Over half said it was welcoming and friendly.

Clearly being “welcoming” is important.  That’s why the Council made “Provide a Welcoming Presence” one of the Guiding Principles we developed last year.  We didn’t make it one of the principles because we were terrible at it.  We did so because we realized it is important and that we need to make we try to be welcoming in all we do.

You can look at welcoming on at least two levels.  Welcoming can be something that happens at the door like when I stand outside and greet people before Mass.  Welcoming includes how we treat people inside the church.  Look at the people around you.  Have you ever talked to them (I don’t mean the people you came with, look a little farther)?  Do we really feel welcome if no one has ever talked to us?

I think maybe a way to define what it means to have a welcoming presence is to make people feel appreciated (to know we are glad they are here) and that we care about them.

This include people who aren’t in our church building with us.  It includes our homebound.  We don’t want them to feel forgotten.  That’s why our Communion Ministers who bring the Eucharist to them are important.

We can also think of the people who have never come to our church who are poor.  Soon the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays will be upon us and there are our Thanksgiving gift card and Christmas gift programs that show we care.  Hopefully our caring action is a sign of God’s love to them.

How about the people who are involved in our ministries?  Do we ever express our gratitude or do we take them for granted?  I know this is something I need to work on, saying thank you more often.  We shouldn’t do it for the thanks but a word of thanks can help us know we make a difference.

Maybe the best way to provide a welcoming presence is show that they are important to us and that we are glad they join us.

Think of it this way.  Say you see someone sitting in church who hasn’t been in here in a long time.  Are we shocked to see them or do we tell them we are glad they are here?

We do about fifty funerals a year here.  Some include Mass in church while others are just simple prayer services at the funeral home or graveside.  A fair number involve families that haven’t been to church in a while.  It doesn’t matter.  It is an opportunity to show them God’s love.  It makes a difference.  I can literally look out in to our pews and see people who have started coming back to church following a family funeral.

Do you welcome those around you?

Everything I have said so far speaks of ways we can all be welcoming.  I want to now take a moment to introduce a new ministry designed to help us be more welcoming.

After consulting with our Parish Pastoral Council and our Evangelization Team, we have decided that it is time to “begin” a Greeter Ministry.

I really don’t like saying “begin”.  We have our ushers that take up the collection and help direct people to the handicap section or the ever important bathrooms.  What our ushers do is important but we would like to take a step forward now and have greeters at every door before Mass to welcome people as they arrive.

Some of our ushers do this at times.  We need to do it more.  We are going to keep our Usher Ministry as it is.  This is one set of gifts.  Greeting people is another set of gifts.  Some of our ushers have already expressed interest in being a Greeter.  You can do both but we need more people to be greeters.

Could it be you?  Do you feel you can be that warm friendly face at the door?  All you have to do is be here fifteen minutes before Mass and welcome people.  If you would like to find out more, we will be having a workshop on October 26th in the evening and October 31st in the afternoon.  You can come and find out more without feeling totally committed.

If being a greeter at the door isn’t for you that is fine.  Just remember everything else I said about being welcoming.

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