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Friday, October 28, 2011

Sts. Simon and Jude

“You are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Eph 2:22

It is heartening to me to think about being built. As a friend often used to say, God isn’t finished with me yet. But Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is not just about me being built, formed and shaped into a sign of God's love. The apostle is talking about all of us together being built into a place and a community where God is alive and transparent. St. Paul wants us to realize that we are the stones of God's dwelling place, each with our own role and function as individuals, each of whom contributes to the whole.

For years, (perhaps centuries!), the most well known Capuchins were Porters, the brothers who answer the door in our friaries. Often, as was the case when I was boy, people would stop at the friary of Sacred Heart, in Yonkers, NY, just to chat with the Brother Rufin, a gentle and compassionate man. Rufin had the ability to listen to anyone, and although he rarely gave advice, people felt better for having spoken with him. Rufin had a very distinct and important role in our Capuchin “dwelling place.” He was the face of the friars, a man whose goodness encouraged everyone who came to the door to trust all the friars. If Rufin could be so kind, surely the other friars would also be welcoming to all, especially sinners. Although a number of the pastors assigned to Sacred Heart seemed to have a more important structural function in the parish and neighborhood, all of the friars were dependent on Rufin to set the welcoming tone that he offered so naturally, and it was Rufin's simple direct service that "opened the door" to the ministry of the other friars.

Today is a good day to think about your role in the church. Are you the quiet glue who keeps things together, the person working behind the scene making coffee, asking others to help with the clean up? Are you a lector charged with preparing the readings, especially for Sunday, so that all might not only hear but be transformed by the Word of God? Are you a home visitor or a community organizer? Are you home bound, called to be a quiet, unseen contemplative praying for those still active in the ministries of the church? While your particular role might not seem to be important, no parish, no church can function well without many hands working together and sharing the ministry that makes each community of faith hum with the vibrancy of the good news. Unfortunately, only when things fall apart do we realize fully how essential each person's individual role is to the life of the church as a whole!

Today, take a moment to pray in gratitude for your place in the church, and a second moment to thank God for all those whose unnoticed roles make your faith community such a vital sign of God's love.

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