Today while reading the Sunday paper, I came across an ad for a crystal cross with the Lord's Prayer inscribed in the center. The ad said that if you wore this cross, all your problems would go away. I laughed and thought about the kind of world we live in.
Not so long ago I attended a Sunday service with friends at another church. The pastor spoke out saying that if you had cancer pray and you would be healed. If you had no money pray and your financial woes would disappear. And finally - if you needed a new car, pray and the Lord would take care of that too.
His sermon did not sit well with me, but I remained silent. When I was leaving with my wife, the pastor approached me and shook my hand. He said I looked bothered by his sermon and he wanted to know what my opinion was. I politely said I was a guest and my opinions were not important. He would not let go of my hand and again asked me for my opinion. I relented and told that I was always taught that prayer was for guidance, strength, comfort, and forgiveness. And quite frankly getting a new car was never brought up in my lessons! What he was doing was giving people false hope... I don't know what bothered me more; what he said to me, or the fact that there were people that actually bought into this.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Jim Bakkers and Jerry Falwells were on television. For some who were homebound, due to illness or injury, this was the only way they thought they could worship. For only $29.95 a month you could join their prayer chain get an autographed picture, and all of your problems would go away.
Taking advantage of someone's faith is so wrong, yet for those who are homebound sometimes can be an easy prey. Many of you likely saw the sign outside of our church about “Catholic’s Coming Home”. Being new to our faith there is something that always stayed fresh in my mind and it is this... Father Pat always closes the Mass the same way. He tells us that God has blessed us in many ways, and to go forth and be a blessing to those that we meet. My friends, don’t we owe our brothers and sisters who have taken this path to tell them not so much what they should do but, what you do. Tell them that you worship as a community. The we all have feelings of friendship and belonging that we sense every week here at St. Edward's. You can’t shake the television's hand and say "Peace be with you”.
As Catholics, we are given so many gifts and have so much to be proud of. By sharing your gifts, you may have been, or will be, a blessing to someone. A very smart person told me once not to pay it back ...pay it forward. We are Catholic Christians. For many of us we take great pride in our faith and where we worship. Share that sense of belonging with a neighbor or friend and who knows. Maybe sometime soon you may be standing in the gathering space at St. Edward’s extending your hand and telling that person, “Welcome home”.