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Are We Taking It For Granted?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is speaking to people who were used to the idea of being “chosen” - but who had lost sight of the challenge and responsibility that goes with being chosen.

He tells them that it will be no good saying that he passed down their street - that they were present at one of the meals He ate. They can’t claim salvation on just happening to be around when Jesus was in town...many, many people will be able to do that. The question is - did it make a difference in their lives?

Then - to add insult to injury - Jesus says that the places the “chosen ones” thought were reserved only for them in the Kingdom of God will, in fact, be taken by other people, even those from distant lands. He is, in fact, talking about the fullfilment of a prophecy that God will establish a Kingdom and will draw all the peoples of the earth to it - on the holy mountain, a feast will be prepared for all people...

However, even if the people listening to Jesus looked forward to that day, they must have thought that their own places were assured - and not just assured but that they would be first in the queue!

Does this begin to sound a bit like us?

Let’s face it, many of us live a very, very comfortable life here … yes, of course, we are all human and have our troubles, challenges and even sicknesses, but I’d say that for the most part, we all seem to be doing just fine.

I also have to be self-aware, of catching myself from that sneaking feeling that we are at the front of the queue! And that the reserved spot for me is permanent and exclusive!

I believe that one of the things that causes the biggest problems in our faith life is the tendency to take it all for granted. The tendency that sounds like this: The church is always there when we want to go on a Sunday morning. When we want the sacraments for ourselves and our children, they are there. When we need whatever, for the most part, we can count on the Church to respond to our needs. Sounds like taking it all for granted … 1950s style … but the Church and the world have changed … and there’s a very real chance that all this is not going to be here for much longer …

I had a stark re-awakening a few weeks ago when I visited my relatives in Montreal. My friends will tell you that in travel, I am a bit curious, kind of like a cat. I like to walk down streets off the beaten path and look at places that are not in guide books. And again, this time I noticed a number of churches that had been converted to condos. In fact, the church that my mom made her first holy communion in, is now a big condo community all within the walls and on the grounds of the church proper.

What happened? I’m guessing, in part, that they took it all for granted. And when less and less people came, and more and more people left, there just wasn’t enough people to carry the costs, and support the activities of what’s necessary to be a viable parish.

The same is happening right here in our midst … perhaps not here in Summit, yet, but surely all around us … more and more parishes are not able to meet the budget because less and less people go, and fewer services are able to be provided.

So, what’s the answer? How do we address this?

I surely don’t have all the answers, but one of them is that we cannot take any of this for granted, and each of us is called to do our part. And perhaps, just perhaps, the time has come, and maybe even passed for us to start to think about a new way to be Church …

Time will tell for sure … but in the meantime, let’s care for what we have, contribute to what we have and look more closely that our being chosen, being members here, comes with challenges and responsibilities.


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