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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories ~ Christian Communities: Reaching Beyond Ourselves

A parish is an interesting place. It is made up of all kinds of people who come from the various ages and stages in life. Some are veterans of the faith others are just beginning their life and journey. Some hold a deep commitment to the Catholic faith and have held it for years. Others are quite tentative in their faith or even somewhat reluctant to hold it. Still others have been away for some time and are just returning to the practice of their faith and are both uncertain and anxious about how to do this and how they will be greeted.

What every one of us has in common is that we belong to an amazing community of Catholic Christians who share a common faith and common values. Sure, there are differences in views among us and each of us can see life and faith differently. But beyond our personal differences we do hold common basic values. These basic values mark every Christian. They come to us from the message and the mission of Jesus expressed in the Good News, the Gospels. In fact, these values, this way of life is Jesus’ way of expressing something that is shared by all humanity, for God gives life and love to all humanity.

This unity of all humanity, no matter who we are or where we are was recognized in the Second Vatican Council. One of its documents expressed this aspect of our Catholic faith explicitly. The words of The Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World express the foundation of our call to value, serve and respect all of humanity with openness, love and care.

There is a growing interdependence among people today which is based on

the many technological advances that are obvious to everyone. But this interdependence reaches its perfection only in growing human relationships, not merely scientific ones. For God, we believe, desires that all people become one family with love for God and neighbour as the basis.

Because of Jesus’ prayer “that all may be one as we are one,” new horizons are

Now opened for us, implying that we will reach our true destiny only by pursuing such oneness with each other. (Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World #23-4, in Bill Huebsch. Vatican II in Plain English: The Constitutions 1997)

This is the ground for the outreach in which each of us as Christians and that our parish as a Christian community are called to engage. We find it expressed in the Gospel in the double commandment of Jesus: You must love the Lord your God with all your heart,... and your neighbour as yourself. Jesus goes on to provide an example of this openness that is our call with the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:27-37). In doing so, Jesus reveals a God who treats all humanity with the same love, compassion and justice, no matter how great or insignificant (Luke 18:1-8).

One of the principal elements of the Christian community is its engagement in outreach, for outreach is action that acknowledges our oneness with and love for each and every human being. It expresses a basic value of our Christian community and also of our humanity –to care for one another.

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