CHURCH: A VOCATION, A GIFT, A LIVING COMMUNITY
The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Do you recognize these words? Can you connect with these words now? These are not “coronavirus” words… They were written at the end of 1965!, the opening words of Gaudium et Spes, the Vatican II constitution on the Church in the modern world, the Joys and the Hopes…
Well God knows we do need them now! Well, to be absolutely honest, we always need those, at every moment of our time or world’s history. Maybe this crisis is opening our minds to the understanding of how fragile and dear life is, what a mystery we were gifted with, all lives, mainly the poor and the afflicted’ s; how interconnected our existence is; how petty differences that just weeks ago seemed unsurmountable and now are just… petty.
Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty, we heard, sorry, we read (force of habit around that experience, the Eucharist that now is so painfully absent) on the 3rd Sunday of Lent, uttered by a woman with a deep thirst… On the 4th, a blind man challenges his accusers:
One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see. And this past Sunday, before restoring life to dead Lazarus, Jesus thankfully prays:
Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me. That they may believe…
Church, you and I, us, is not a building, nor a feeling; Church is not a doctrinal statement, nor rites or liturgy. Church is a living Community in movement, the Holy People of God, persons stirred up by the Ruah of God (the Holy Spirit). Signs, symbols really speak of God. When we are baptized, that is incorporated in the Church, there is water, and fire, and oil; living, dynamic elements that speak to us, compel us, to connect with the Dynamis, the Power that God is and lay out that transformative power!
This is not a time to be quiet, rather, to reach out to the neighbor who may be in need; not to stay idle, but rather to go and donate blood; to see how I can help other people who are less fortunate than me. We deal with this situation not as isolated individuals, rather as a living, caring Community of believers in the God of Jesus! This is a time of action and contemplation.
You may remember our Saint Vincent de Paul Society (SVDP) (214-628-2912) and how they construct the Kingdom of God since they do the Works of Mercy (Mathew 25). The same with Dallas Area Interfaith (DAI) and how they organize people for the wellbeing of the whole community. DAI has been working with local leaders to see how to mitigate the effects of this pandemic. SVDP is willing to help people in our Parish who may be in need, especially the undocumented, since the ones who are documented can receive some help from the aid package just recently passed by the Congress.
So it is up to us. You and me. The Samaritan woman, the man born blind, Lazarus… Lupe, Larry, Rosa, Jose… people who may be in need, and God knows we are in need, but people who believe, who act, and now that the church, the building, is empty, step up to the Baptismal Vocation and become the hands and feet of our God, the Church!
Luis Gerardo, Capuchin