Sunday, October 25, 2009
Photo of Mass at Holy Family Parish: DupontMediaWorld
I will gather you together from the ends of the world...
(Scripture readings for today's liturgy)
(This weekend marks the 5th anniversary of Holy Family Parish, the merger of two other parishes in Concord closed in the reconfiguration of the Archdiocese of Boston in 2004.)
The sign on the lawn of First Parish Church across the street
announces that First Parish was gathered in 1636.
Not established, like a bank; not founded, like an institution
but gathered – as a people.
I love that choice of words!
Indeed, that's the word the Lord used in the first lesson:
"I will gather my people from the ends of the world..."
This weekend we mark a more modest history:
the 5th anniversary of our being gathered as Holy Family Parish.
Of course, Catholics had been gathered in Concord
long before October 2004.
St. Bernard Parish was gathered in 1863
and Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in 1907,
adding up to a combined gathering of 238 years
of Catholic parish life in Concord.
There is no doubt about it: the vitality of Holy Family is built
on the firm foundation of two longstanding faith communities
and without that foundation we would not be the parish we are today.
And there’s no doubt about something else, too.
There’s no doubt that it is the Spirit of God who has gathered us
not, as in Jeremiah’s words, “from the ends of the world”
but rather, from both side of Route 2.
(It may have been easier
for the Spirit to gather Israel from the ends of the known world
than to gather us from both sides of Route 2!)
In Jeremiah, the Lord remembers how his people “departed in tears”
when they were exiled from their own place
but he promises to guide and lead them
to a place of consolation and refreshment,
to bring them home to his heart.
When speaking of gathering his people back to himself,
the Lord mentions three particular groups of pilgrims:
the blind; the lame; the mothers and those with child.
The blind: the ones who cannot be sure of what is ahead of them;
the lame: those who might find the journey too difficult to make;
and the mothers: those who care for their children,
and those who carry within their wombs the peoples’ future.
Are we, the people who are gathered by the Lord into our parish,
are we so different?
The gathered tribe of Holy Family Parish after a 9:30 Mass in October: DupontMediaWorld
(Click on the image for a close-up!)
Among those gathered from our parishes of origin,
there are those who find it difficult to see
how and where the Lord is leading us
and what healing the Lord offers us,
even in our loss and anger.
And there are those so wounded by what happened 5 years ago
that they have left the Catholic caravan of God’s people
and have decided to journey with another tribe,
or even to make the journey alone.
And of course there are 1,300 households
of mothers and fathers and families who have,
with all the burdens that family and parish life include,
have committed themselves to making the journey of faith
with this tribe of God’s people known as Holy Family Parish.
Especially significant is the Lord mentioning “those with child”
among the people he leads from exile.
It’s so clear from his words that we who journey with him
carry within us the faith of the generations to come.
Our fidelity to the Lord on the journey he leads
is a gift from us to those who will come after us.
Just as we are gathered on the strong foundation
of our parishes of origin,
so will our young ones, even those not yet born,
so will they build on the foundation of the journey in faith
we’ve made over the last 5 years and all the years
that brought us to this parish and to this anniversary.
The one constant in the journey of Christian faith,
the one moment that marks us for who we are
and who we are called to be,
the one prayer that makes us who we are
is the prayer of this table, the sacrifice of this altar,
the great thanksgiving we offer
through Christ, with Christ and in Christ in the Eucharist.
Only here, together, in this ancient prayer of the ages,
can we find what we find here:
the life of Christ Jesus and our unity in him
who is our Lord and redeemer, who delivers us from exile
and gathers us to his own heart.
The very first thing we did as a new parish 5 years ago
was to celebrate the Eucharist and since then, over 5 years,
we have celebrated the Eucharist more than 2,500 times.
The Eucharist is who we are and what we do,
it is how we know our God
and how we come to know our truest selves.
Here we find the grace of the sacrifice of the Cross.
Here we find food for the journey as we travel with the Lord
who gathers us in from so many places,
with the blind, the lame, the mothers and those with child.
Yes, five years ago we “departed in tears”
but the Lord has consoled us, guided us and led us
to this table of saving grace in the life of our parish.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Posted by Austin Fleming at 12:42 AM