All are Welcome
In Jesus’ parable of “The King Who Gave a Wedding Feast for his Son,” of course he is speaking of the wedding—the marriage—of Jesus, his own Son, to his bride, the Church. Some of the Chosen People chose not to believe and not to be part of this marriage; others did and they eventually became known as Christians. However, as the parable goes, so many of the invited guests did not show up that there was plenty of room for more, and so they went out into the streets “to gather the bad and the good alike” to come into the banquet. The Christ event—his life, passion, death, resurrection, Pentecost, and ascension—then, is the Great Wedding that began our Church. If you want to take part in the wedding banquet of the Lord, know that ALL ARE WELCOME, “the good and the bad alike.” This fundamental, generous, and open invitation is at the very heart of Evangelization.
Exactly six years ago this coming Tuesday, on September 14, 2008, our centennial year, forty of St. Rita’s parishioners and friends began their pilgrimage to Cascia in Italy with the sole purpose of venerating our great patroness, St. Rita of Cascia, and praising God for the gift of being a local church—a faith community—for 100 years on this Earth. St. Rita Parish was founded by Fathers Barth and Woodcutter to evangelize—to invite “the bad and the good alike” to the table of the Lord: to Baptize the children of Christians and adults who wish a seat at the table; to Confirm faith; to Reconcile those who stray and wish to return to Holy Communion; to celebrate and witness Marriages for the increase of Jesus’ family; to Ordain and commission for service and ministry; and to Anoint for the assurance of Jesus’ presence and companionship when life becomes vulnerable and fragile. In a nutshell this is any Roman Catholic faith community living the present experience of Jesus wedding to his bride, the Church.
As we at St. Rita enjoy new opportunities for faith formation in Christ, and the proliferation of many forms of ministry and outreach, we should feel the gift that the call to evangelization is. The prophet Isaiah describes the gift so well:
On this mountain the Lord of Hosts will provide for all people A feast of rich food and choice wines… On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all people… He will destroy death forever… and wipe away the tears from every face.
This is what we must always stand for—and stand up for. This is the redemption and salvation by Jesus that all who come to St. Rita should experience. “Inviting in the good and the bad” is challenging (not to mention uncomfortable, at times awkward, and requiring that we be nonjudgmental, non-prejudicial). —But this is, after all, OUR FAITH. And, we are proud to profess it.