Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
Watch for it… watch for it…
It’s that time of year again when you will be receiving our new Parish Renewal Handbook and Annual Report in the mail. The packet will arrive in a large envelope, including the catalog, a cover letter from me, a commitment card, a reply envelope for the commitment card,and a prayer card.
Our goal this year is to learn what holiness means, and to be holy. What does “holy”
mean to you? For many, unfortunately, it is the characature of the one who walks around
with his eyes gazing upward, who disdains the world and avoids anything that they feel is unworthy of them.
Well, that is not what I’m talking about. And that isn’t Jesus. God put us here on this earth to change it, and it won’t change if we aren’t involved. His call requires us be involved intimately, to enter into suffering and pain—not so that we can change it (we can’t), but so that he can transform it from within—through us.
A healthier definition of holiness, I believe, is to be exactly the person who God made you to be, to discover what he has given you so that you can fulfill a particular task in his Kingdom that only you can accomplish with your mixture of gifts and talents. It requires a radical openness to God, and to other people, too. Especially the people who might not agree or follow the same values and faith that we have. If we hold others at arms length, then how is the embrace of Christ through us going to break down the alienation of distance and hatred?
You see, God has a plan. It’s been from the beginning and always, and it unfolds over time in places and generations without exception. It is activated through the gifts that he has placed in all his people, without exception, because that is what he makes. People with gifts. At the right moment, when the need arises, these gifts make themselves available and effective to serve him and his people through us. Mary’s gift of openness to God’s will unlocked the mystery of the Incarnation for generations of people who had waited for the Messiah. Peter’s embedded gift of evangelism (clarity) was activated in that moment when, in his encounter with Jesus, he was asked, “Who do you say that I am?” And on that rock Jesus built his Church. Look to the great figures of saints anywhere in the great tradition of the history of salvation—even to those who are living today—and you will find people everywhere who are responding with open hearts, simply responding to this encounter with God, letting those gifts go to work. Holy people (saints) aren’t people who accomplished great things: holy people (saints) are the ones who allowed God to accomplish great things through them, just by becoming who God called them to be from the foundation of the world.
So, if the gifts are seeds in us that are already planted by God then all we need is good soil to grow in. Let Saint Mary be your garden, your vineyard. We are in the world in order to transform the world and cannot shy away from the ministry. So, please, get involved and become fully who you are called to be.
God bless you.