A Million Things to Celebrate and a Lesson in Belonging | 6th Sunday of Easter

Lots to preach about this week! Today we celebrate four teachers who are retiring after a combined 140 years of service to St. Raymond. Today is also my first anniversary as a priest! And today we remember that glorious occasion on May 26, 1955 when this cathedral was consecrated to the glory of God and to the honor of St. Raymond.

The question of circumcision in the Acts of the Apostles has very little to do with the actual act of circumcising, but has almost everything to do with what that act meant.

The new Jesus followers were beginning to ask whether one must become a Jew in order to become a Christian. The group was split, and so Paul and Barnabas go to Jerusalem with a group of elders to settle the question once and for all.

The question? What or who is the protagonist of the new community? What makes one a member of the Jesus community, and what does it meant to belong?

There are the questions that are relevant for us today. We are at a crossroads in our life as a parish and we must begin to reconsider what it means to really belong.

This community is a gift to us, and like every other gift we must receive it in order experience it. When I arrived here last June, I had the option to keep all of you at arm’s length; to celebrate the sacraments and then hide in my room. In the same way, you could have kept Fr. Bill and me and arm’s length; you’d just lost a beloved pastor and may have decided that now would not be a good time to welcome new priests into your lives.

But we made the effort, you and me, to receive each other.

Today we celebrate the dedication of this place. My favorite quote in the heritage hallway is from Msgr. Hoover: “Future generations will look on the wrought substance of [this church], and will say, ‘Look what our fathers did for us!'”

This place is a living testament in brick and mortar of the faith of our fathers and mothers; this building tells us that 64 years ago there was a community of people who loved the Lord Jesus and each other, and received each other, and gave of themselves to build a lasting testament to their faith and love.

If this place burned down tonight, and now that I’ve said that I’m sure I’ll be the first witness if it does…, would we cease to be a parish, cease to be a people?

No. We are anointed, we are the people of God. We have received the Spirit in the sacraments and we are bound together in him and by him.

I keep hearing that this church used to be packed every Sunday. Well, where did everyone go?

This is our challenge in these days which are pregnant with grace. We are new in Jesus; he has promised a new Spirit, and has inaugurated for a new age and a new life. What does it mean for us to belong to Jesus? It’s recognizing that we belong to each other, each other who are filled with the Spirit. We cannot receive what is not being given. We must give of ourselves and at the same time receive what is being given. Everything we need is already here. Are we gonna do this?

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