A SPECIAL HOMILY FOR THE SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “A” – 2/16/20 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
Today we are kicking off our “Come Build God’s Kingdom” new stewardship series. And this is a great time to do this, as we prepare for our 20th Anniversary of being a Parish this coming August. We’ve got a big party coming up. Another reason, beginning next month, we start the preparation and the formation for Perpetual Adoration, which will begin on Divine Mercy Sunday in April, the Sunday after Easter. The other reason for this being the right time to talk about some of these things, is that we are now a week and a half away from beginning our 2020 season of Lent. And before we get to Ash Wednesday, ALL of us need to do some serious praying and reflecting on our commitment to Jesus. We know what Jesus has done for us, we see it every time we look at the Crucifix. We’re coming up on our time, to show our commitment to Him and to His Church.
Whether you have been around here at St. Maria Goretti for the past 20 years of more, or you are new here in the last couple weeks, you don’t have to be around here very long to see what God has done for us, and through us, in this former soybean field. It has been miraculous! And we’ve all seen bits and pieces. A church that was begun as a Mission of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Where there was nothing but a field, we put a parish hall and the first section of a Catholic school. Then there’s the “new” church, dedicated in 2004. And the completion of the school, the gym, and the Rectory. And in just the last couple of years, a bell tower and an Adoration Chapel. But it’s never really been about the buildings. It’s been all about Jesus Christ. And building His Kingdom in the Catholic tradition, right here in Westfield. And that has happened through ALL of us. God has used us. God has used you! And by your sacrifices, and your commitment, unbelievable things have happened right before our eyes. A twice Nationally recognized blue ribbon Catholic School, that has virtually redefined what Catholic education can be and can do. An outstanding Religious Formation Program for everyone, from our pre-schoolers to our Silver Angels. A Sport’s Ministry Program that would re-define athletics in a modern Catholic Parish. A HELP Committee and Shepherd’s Gate Food Pantry that would serve hundreds every year! A Christ Renews His Parish process that would change lives, and marriages, and families. Youth ministry, and young adult and young family ministries, and the Holy Name Society and the Altar Rosary Society! Youth Ministry, and Scouts, and RCIA, and Bible Studies, and B.C.C.’s. The Temple Knights of the Holy Eucharist and the Sisterhood of Marietta. The Spring Fling and the Italian Festival and the Fall Festival, and the Ladies Candlelight Dinner. Music Ministry, and the Liturgical ministries, and above all, Mass, and the Sacraments, and Eucharistic Adoration. Truth is, I could keep going on, and on, but we don’t have time. God has blessed us. God has proven His love and His commitment to us. And you have responded. All of us have! This could not have happened without you, and your commitment, and your sacrifice. And the Sacrifices and commitment have been great! You need to be commended!
But there’s so much that you haven’t seen. Behind what we read in the bulletin, or see on Sunday, or hear about through the website. So many amazing stories of what God has done for us, and what we have done for God!
One such story involves a family that came to St. Maria Goretti under the most unusual of circumstances. This family, from Westfield, had never been part of any church or organized religion. Like many people, couples, and families, they had never really thought about faith, or religion, or church in their lives. Then, one fall, their younger son, began to exhibit some disturbing behaviors. The boy seemed lost, and ungrounded, and even somewhat depressed. As modern, caring parents, they took their younger son to a psychiatrist, before things got worse. The psychiatrist saw the boy several times, and gave him several tests and evaluations. After a few weeks, the parents were invited in, to hear the results, of what the doctor had found. The Doctor said the boy was “spiritually starving”. He needed a high power, a religion, a faith, something to believe in! Not your typical diagnosis in psychiatry! And again, remember, unlike the way that most of us grew up, this family had no religion or faith or any inkling of how to get started. So driving back to Westfield, they came up Spring Mill Road. You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? They get back up here, and they notice not the huge church, or the bell tower, or the school. They see the brick sign out on Spring Mill Road, at our entrance. And that big sign, speeding things up a bit, eventually leads them to bringing both of their sons to Mass, the next Sunday. Very much to their surprise, the family finds that they like coming to church, and Mass, even though they aren’t Catholics. They sit the back row. They meet a few people. They enjoy coffee and donuts, and they just keep coming back every week! I told you, it’s an amazing story. Two months into their “Catholic experiment”, the younger son starts to get much better. He’s talking and asking questions about what he is seeing and hearing at Mass. They put the boys in P.R.E. The Mom and Dad, signed up for something called “Christ Renews His Parish”. And it changes their lives. And they meet all these other people who are trying to make their way through this life, and to know, love, and serve God. A few months later, guess what? The whole family is in RCIA, and would become Catholic Christians the following Easter. That family were parishioners here for eleven years. They moved away a couple of years ago. And when they moved, the Dad wrote me a letter thanking me for building such a big, brick sign.
Was it really the brick sign? Of course not. It was YOU guys. It was the commitment and the sacrifices of this community! It was God at work in you! That’s a true story. How many Spiritually starving- people have we helped? I don’t know for sure, but I know that it is more than four!
This is what we MUST keep up. This is what we must keep doing as a Parish Community. And that only happens with our commitment and our sacrifices. Next weekend at Mass, we’re having what we are calling, “Commitment Weekend”. And again, this is so important BEFORE we begin Lent! And as we head into our next 20 years as a Parish family. It is time for all of us, even us priest, even this priest, to re-commit ourselves to Jesus and Building His Kingdom.
This week, you will be receiving a special brochure in the mail from me, along with a Commitment card, that I’m asking you to bring back next weekend, to renew your financial commitment to help us support our ministries here at St. Maria Goretti. Next weekend, you’ll hear an awesome witness at Mass from some fellow parishioners, and then we’ll all fill out and turn in our commitment cards at Mass after the homily. We need to keep St. Maria Goretti strong for the future, and for the continued building up of God’s Kingdom.
And finally, no matter what, let’s all of us keep this effort in our prayers these next two weeks. We can’t do it without God. And our response to His commitment, has got to be what our commitment is all about!
+ May God bless us and our every effort to build His Kingdom, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!