As I read the readings for this Sunday, I find myself reflecting on the mission and vision of our parish. Our parish attempts to chart a new course when it comes to how to be a Christian. It is not the old, tired path of following every rule and believing every dogma. No, it is about a personal, loving relationship with the Almighty.
So many people in our community have been hurt by churches that believe the only way to be saved is completely abandon who God made you to be and to suppress everything that makes you human. Yet, in the same breath, they talk about how Jesus came to this earth to be “truly human”. Which leaves me questioning, why did Jesus come to experience our humanity if it is something to be suppressed and denied?
Sunday’s Gospel reading gives us a clue as to why Jesus came to experience our humanity. Jesus came that we might have a refuge, a place of solace to turn to. Jesus came to preach a message of how to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth, not work to destroy the earth so you can run away to a heaven in the skies. Jesus’ message was not about escapism, but rather about being here in the present moment, working with others to make the world a better place.
This is why our parish continues to commit time and resources to helping the homeless. Despite what so many “Christians” today believe, we do not help the homeless to make them dependent on hand outs. No, we help them because we do not want anyone to go hungry. We don’t want anyone to starve in our streets. Nor do we want to have anyone else freeze to death in our streets. It is not about dependency, it is about being a good human being and a good follower of Jesus.
This is also why we stand up for the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color. Jesus called us to protect those who are abuse and maligned. Jesus did not call us to abuse people because of who they are, who they love, or what they look like. Jesus spoke against such abuse which was rampant in his day. And so we continue that mission of standing up for all people!
That is what it means to have a place where people who are burdened by life and come and rest. Jesus in his call not only offers himself as a rest for the weary, but calls us to open places of rest for others. But in order to do that, we must first make sure that we are a safe person, that we create a safe place for people to be themselves without judgement and without condemnation.
Here at Saint Francis Parish and Outreach, we will continue to be that safe space. We will continue to be a place where you can rest from life’s burdens.
Pax et Bonum!