There seems to be two different concepts of parish life that most adhere to, two different visions of what SJN is in itself.
In the first concept, some think of SJN as simply a place, an address, a geography. It is a place where you go to celebrate or "hear" Mass. The parish is a place where your children are sent to receive the sacraments. The parish is a place where engaged couples choose to have their wedding. The parish is a place where the dead are waked and prayed over. In this first concept of a parish, to be a parishioner of SJN means that you come to this address to receive the gifts of God, the gifts of God that are given to you through those that serve the parish in ministry and through ordination. In this first notion of "parish", it's all about what you get when you come here.
In the second concept of "parish", others recognize that SJN, while being a place, an address, a geography, it is also the meeting place of the encounter with God, where the mystery of the Lord's Presence is forming us into a living fellowship, a living community. In this second concept of "parish", parishioners of SJN follow the invitation of the Lord, and trusting in his new Way of life, seek to give of themselves in imitation of the One who poured his life out for love of us. In this second notion of SJN, parishioners seek to live out their faith as active and intentional disciples of the Lord Jesus, sharing themselves out of love... for God... for neighbor. We seek to be good stewards of the gifts of God; and we realize that each of us is called to fellowship with all, as the walls of isolation and separation are broken down by the power of divine love.
I know that these are rough generalizations; but I hope you see the point I want to make, on this Commitment Sunday of the sharing of our time and our talents, this commitment to stewardship. The gift of faith that has been given to us does not call us to a simple passivity. Faith is not about showing up and getting what is offered. Faith is a new way of being in the world and this supernatural gift calls on each of us to seek the Kingdom day by day through our participation in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Each of us is to be a vehicle or conduit of grace, as we carry the light and love of the Lord Jesus to our friends and neighbors... by the way we live our lives.
SJN is meant to be a family, with the Lord Jesus as our heart, our center. We each have a part to play, in this family of faith. We each are called to witness to this new Way of Life, by living this new Way of Life...personally, together. We are called to stewardship: caring for the gifts of God and sharing of these gifts of God... just like Jesus.
Please, hear the Lord's word to you. Do not squander a moment's time. Our time on this earth is finite, limited, and we are being called to "spend" the gift of this life intentionally, according to the Way of the Lord. Step out in faith and get involved with this life... this parish... this path. We do this for our joy and for the greater glory of God.
Msgr. David Talley
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