Bishop’s Letter: House of Prayer

 

“. . . for my house shall be called
a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Isaiah 56:7

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

What is the line of divide among us?  Is it wearing a mask vs. not?  Is it having food vs. not? Or living in one section of a town vs. another?  Is it the color of one’s skin?  Is it one denomination vs. another?  Is it the nationality of one vs. another?  Is it the political party to which we profess?  Is it old vs. young?

From the beginning of time and throughout the ages, God has called us to Him and declared us sacred because we are “the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake, and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life. It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity” (CCC 356). “Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone” (CCC 357).

Throughout Jesus’ walk on this earth, He lived the example of inclusion.  He ministered to people of different nationalities, faiths, economic status, ability and stature.  He called everyone to His own.  He had cured the servant of the Roman centurion and He crossed into the Decapolis to preach to and feed thousands. Jesus did not exclude ‘the other’ from His presence.  When we exclude people because of their differences, we are not living our faith as Jesus showed us how to live.

We know that Jesus’s ministry was pebbled with discord.  People were not sure of who Jesus really was. Politics created its own subterfuge for the purpose of the Messiah. The Pharisees thought the Messiah should be a King, not a lowly carpenter or itinerant preacher, relying on the goodness of others for his physical sustenance.  In some areas, Jesus was the outcast because he was a Jew or because of His faith in the one, true God.

God calls us to infect the world with hope.  In our profession of faith, in our love of God, there is no room for the infection of disdain.  The words we speak to each other, with each other should be a shelter of this hope.  Our conversations should reflect God’s love.  Words may include or divide.  Pope Francis encourages us to ‘pay attention to the frequency with which we repeat and accentuate particular words.’ Then we will discover whether our conversations, our Facebook posts, our texts, our photos, convey the dignity of all people. Then we will discover whether our house is a prayer for all peoples.

Who do you find difficult to like or accept?  Jesus challenges our divisions and boundaries with His arms open to welcome.  In the Eucharist, we hear those extraordinary words. “Fulfilling Your will and gaining for You a holy people, He stretched out His hands as He endured His Passion, so as to break the bond of death and manifest the resurrection.”

May each one of us stretch out our hands, our heart to gain for Him a holy people, bringing all into God’s embrace that none may be left out.  May this offering be a house of prayer for all peoples.