It is easy to focus on the negative in life. Everyday the news helps us bury ourselves in negativity by bringing us one bad piece of news after another. And during Lent, we are so focused on our shortcomings and failings that we tend to buy into the negativity. So for just a moment, I want to look at some positive things. And our continuing message of community building is just what we need.
Lent is a great time to resolve to deepen our commitment to the church and to our faith. So many people today refuse to come to church because of past bad experiences in church. Others feel there is no need to go to church because it is just full of hypocrites. In that logic, you would never go out to a restaurant because people get sick eating out and some even die from the food served to them. You would never go to the movies because people have been hurt at movies. I might never sleep again simply because I had a bad dream.
Focusing on the negative and painful parts of our lives leave us stuck in a rut that we find it hard to get out of. It also helps to cut us off from others who have been through those experiences. Those same people can help us navigate our own path thru the pain and hurt.
I am not absolving the church of its responsibility for the pain it causes people. Rather, I am saying that not all churches are created equally. Our church is born out of the pain, abuse and mistreatment many of us suffered at the hands of mainstream churches. We work to be better than those churches by treating everyone as we would want to be treated. Our focus as a parish and as part of a larger national church is to help those who have been abused and to stop the cycle of abuse.
This Saturday evening, our parish will be offering the Stations of the Cross. However, it is not your typical Stations. It is a version of the Stations of the Cross that focuses on the plight of the immigrants and migrants in our communities. It looks that what they experience when they are forced to leave their homes because of war, famine or violence.
We continue to build our Blessing Bags and distribute them to the homeless in our community. The Blessing Bags are made with love and care so that those who need them most not only get the supplies they need, but they also know they are loved by someone.
And we continue to welcome everyone into our parish without reservation. It is our mission to build a safe space for everyone. This is especially true for those who have been mistreated or abused. We welcome, accept and affirm everyone regardless of who you are, what you look like, who you love, what religion you come from, what your nationality is, or what language you speak. It does not matter if you are rich, poor, or something in between.
Here at Saint Francis, everyone is equal and everyone is part of our family and our community. You need only come and experience a radically inclusive and affirming way to be Catholic!