Today’s readings are about the Word of God. In Nehemiah 8, a little read book in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Levites read from the Law of God and the people weep when they hear it. Ezra tells them not to be grieved but to know that the joy of the Lord is their strength. Psalm 19 sings out that the law of the Lord is perfect and the response is Your words, Lord, are spirit and life. In 1 Corinthinans 12, we see the many gifts that the body of Christ possesses. Finally in Luke’s two Gospels that are sliced together today, we see the importance of how the word is fulfilled in Jesus.
I have been thinking about church for a long time and how the Word needs to feed those gathered. When it does not, the people starve and go in search of other food. By our baptism we are called to be priest, prophet and king. In any of these roles, we are word-bearers, following in the footsteps of Mary, who brought to us the Living Word. I have been having conversations with people about church and trying to figure out how to revitalize the mass I go to. When I started attending, the church had standing room only some nights. People were hungry for both the spoken and sung Word. The homilies were inspiring, the music phenomenal and the Word proclaimed beautifully. Some of those elements remain and yet, the population dwindles. This makes me feel tremendously sad.
Not one to complain without trying to solve an issue, I have agreed to establish a committee to look at changing things up. In general, church attendance is down. This is not just about my particular parish, but it is a Catholic trend right now in many places. People are not hanging on to the Word of God as they did in the First Reading and they are not recognizing their gifts as in the Second Reading and therefore do not step up to serve. They come and go, without engaging in community.
Protestant churches have some things figured out better than we do. I am wondering if we might learn a few things from them. On the other hand, Pope Francis is refreshing the Church as a whole with his ideas. The time is ripe for change. I pray that the Spirit of the Lord fall upon us so that we can proclaim the Word freely and enticingly to bring people back. May the Spirit work in all Word-bearers to renew the Church.
How does the Word of God move you?
Is there anything you can do to revitalize the Church?
Plant Your Word in me, God. Help me to sow seeds that will flower and draw people to You. Your Word, O Lord, is Spirit and Life. May it be proclaimed as the Good News that feeds the hungry. Amen.