Striving for Deeper Holiness: September 26, 2021


26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Friends, blessings from Saint Clement. It is a beautiful fall day, a day that the Lord invites us one more time to reflect on his presence and faithfulness in our own lives. In the word of God that we hear today, it's not only encouraging, it is also affirming us in our mission of inviting all people to experience the fullness of life in Jesus Christ. The scripture that we hear today, which is a continuation of the ninth chapter of Mark, we see the disciples coming to Jesus, complaining again, like last week. This time they don't complain about each other. They complain about others. They said to Jesus, "Other people who don't go with us do great things in your name, and we think they are bad people." And Jesus says, "Listen, if anybody does good things in my name, they belong to me. They might not belong to you yet. They might not be part of your community, but they're part of my community. They have my power. They cannot do great things without my power."
What Jesus basically says to all of us is, "Listen, some of us are Catholics, others of us are Orthodox, others of us are a part of the Protestant churches," and Jesus dwells in all those places and in all those places calls people to holiness of life and to faithfulness to the scripture. Within our own Catholic tradition, we are enriched by the sacraments. We believe that those are the most beautiful ways to encounter Jesus, not only in the Eucharist, which is the center and the summit of our own spiritual lives, but in other sacraments in which Jesus is present to us and his ministry can be felt by our receiving of the sacraments.
Here at Saint Clement, we are proud to celebrate a lot of sacraments every single year, from about 60 weddings to over 200 baptisms and confirmations and First Communions and so many important moments in which we see God entering into relationship with us and truly blessing us out of the abundance of his own heart. And then once we are blessed by God, once we receive the sacraments, we are sent out on the mission to share that blessing with others. And so my invitation to you as a community is that you ask yourself who, recently, did you invite to Saint Clement to be part of the community and whom you should invite? I know this is hard and I know people are much more willing to invite somebody for a dinner out to eat than to their parish church for an Alpha course or a discussion about scripture or even a social event, but I challenge you to consider it. Why? Because that's what Jesus asked us to do and it's important, actually, to do what Jesus asked us to do, which is to be his witnesses in the world, and we do it by simply saying, listen, we have a great community here, a community that we strive to serve one another and be connected with one another, and we don't want you to be lonely. We don't want you to be alone. We want you to feel like you're supported and part of the community that is life-giving, in which everyone has an opportunity to step up and use your own God-given gifts and talents. 
We welcome everybody here, whether people are straight or gay, whether they are young or older, whether they're married or single, divorced, you name it. We believe that everyone is called and invited to be part of the celebration in which we recognize the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I invite you, friends, to join us here at Saint Clement, to consider making us your church, and if you have been gone for a while to consider visiting us in person or joining our online liturgies. We'd love to pray with you, but even more so, we'd love to see how God makes a difference in our lives when we come together as a community. God bless you all!