By Father Alonzo Q. Cox
In a recent meeting with my parish pastoral council, we discussed the declining numbers of people coming to Sunday Mass. There are a number of reasons for that, but I think one of the main reasons why we are not getting new people to come to Mass is because they are not invited.
Over the last few months, I have presented my parish with a challenge. I have asked parishioners to personally invite at least one person to church with them on Sunday morning.
I think we are great at inviting people to dinner, to parties and other social gatherings. Those are great opportunities for people to get to know one another and to develop relationships and it all stemmed from a personal invitation from one person to another. Now imagine if we invited one of our friends or a family member to Sunday Mass and a relationship with Jesus Christ comes forth. It all comes from that personal invitation to encounter the Lord.
Continue the Mission
As members of the mystical Body of Christ, each of us is called to invite our brothers and sisters to the fold. That mystical Body of Christ is the Church! We want the Church to flourish and to grow so that we can continue the mission of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.
We hear in today’s second reading from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that the body has many parts, but each part makes the entire body. That body is Christ the Lord.
St. Paul says, “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:12-13).
In my previous parish assignment, I had the opportunity to work closely with the RCIA candidates. I remember one of the candidates telling me that her next-door neighbor invited her to Mass one Sunday. She said to her neighbor that she wasn’t Catholic, but the neighbor insisted on her coming.
Fell in Love at Mass
She came to Mass and in her words, she met Jesus and fell in love. That relationship with the Lord led her to the saving waters of Baptism, the fullness of the Spirit in Confirmation and to be nourished with Christ Himself at His sacred altar. It all came about from a personal invitation.
Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel that the Spirit of the Lord is upon us. Jesus Himself returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.
My sisters and brothers, that Spirit is within us! We must allow the Spirit of God to shine so bright that all the world can see. We want to invite people to see and know of God’s infinite love for them. The Body of Christ is truly made up of many parts and each part works in giving God our Father praise and majesty.
As we work to build up God’s Kingdom here on this earth, let us pray that the Spirit will continue to strengthen and guide Holy Mother Church. We pray that members of the Body will grow, not just in number, but in love. It all comes from that personal invitation to encounter Christ the Lord.