If we are here, celebrating our 100th, we are here because of Love. Love has brought us out of the isolation of our selves and into relation with each other, bringing us into a fellowship, a communion of persons gathered together in faith, forming a community, a parish.
Thomas Merton, a Cistertian monk and hermit of the 1960s, a spiritual master of our modern times, once said
“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another.”
Even those who live a chosen life of solitude know that to grow and become more human we need others, we need the community; that we were not made to be alone.
Amidst the backdrop of this new age when our technology is getting faster and faster, our communication devices are smaller and more accessible than ever imagined, there nonetheless appears to be a crisis in our society, a path that leads many down a road of greater isolation. People seem more and more to be talking at each other, but not listening to the other, youth often feel alone, the elderly are so often lonely. There has been as continuous breakdown of family life, and community life.
Pope John Paul II warn us once
“The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.”
There is an antidote to this: the parish. The parish is a community of faith that brings people together in the love of God, and in the service of humanity. It invites people no matter what their struggle and welcomes them, introduces them to the unlimited love of God, beckons them to experience that Love and then to share it with others. There is always a struggle however, for it is often in community we discover just how vulnerable we truly are. M. Scott Peck a Christian psychologist and writer stated:
“There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community.”
The place of the parish has been always to foster Love of God and love of neighbour, the two great commandments of the Judeo-Christian tradition. It is a commandment that fosters growth in civil life and well as personal and spiritual health.
Bishop Willibrord, our patron saint, showed us long ago how his faith built community and prosperity to Friesland, today the Netherlands. Even after the pagan King Radbod destroyed all his churches, Willibrord’s unfailing trust in God, his love and imitation of Jesus gave him the determination to go on and he won over the people and rebuilt the churches and inspired all to live in the Love that conquers all divisions.
Here in our parish of St Willibrod in Verdun, our community gives witness to this same spirit. The archives that we have around us show the value and support that our community has given over the years. That time and time again we faced our struggles and we continued to offer and to be the best of ourselves. We raise each other up.
We have come now to 100 years. We do not know what the future has in store. Many things change and are changing. We must welcome new things, and we know that, if our community will go for another 100 years, we must continue to open ourselves up and to accept others, welcome those who are different from us, share the love that we have been given, continue to take care of children, families, elderly, the poor, those who struggle, who are addicted, who are hungry, who are lonely, who need the compassion of Christ.
For us who are Christians this is sharing the Gospel, this is creating a civilization of conscience, a community of Love, a foretaste of the life to come, heaven.
I concluded with a quote from Mother Teresa:
“I am not sure exactly what Heaven will be like. But I do know that when we die and if comes the time for God to judge us, He will not ask, "How many good things have you done in your life?" Rather He will ask, "How much love did you put into what you did?"
As we continue our journey in this life, let us continue to learn this path of love together. Let us celebrate that love and not be afraid where it leads.
Posted on Tuesday June 18 2013
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