This week’s Realign Resources for Mission Update comes from Sheri Wolfert. Sheri is a wife, mother, parishioner & teacher at St Mary Parish in Westphalia. She is a also a popular Catholic speaker and writer who regularly features in FAITH Magazine, the official publication of the Diocese of Lansing.
There’s also a great video from Steve Nowaczewski who is a parishioner Saint Joseph parish in Ypsilanti and a member of the 14-person Realign Resources for Mission Committee. A married father of four, Steve brings to the committee great experience in strategy, planning, integrity management, and change-management courtesy of working at a high-level in the energy sector over several decades.
Today, Sheri explores the proposition of the Realign Resources for Mission vision which states: “A parish in the Diocese of Lansing is invested and recognizable in the local community as salt, light, and leaven,” (Principle 4.4, Realign Resources for Mission). Sheri writes:
“I heard the lovely story of a Catholic Church in a small village in France that had a beautiful statue of Jesus with outstretched hands. Both the church and the statue were ravaged by enemy attacks and bombing in World War II. Surveying the damage after the bombing has ceased, parishioners realized that a fallen beam had sheared off the hands of Jesus. The sculptor offered to repair the statue but the people of the parish instead chose to replace Jesus’ missing hands with a plaque that read, “Christ has no hands but ours.” They saw it as an opportunity to provide a reminder of our true mission as Christians.”
“The fourth Realign Resources for Mission pillar calls us to Seek the Lost and Serve the Poor. This pillar is the action; the call to be the hands of Christ. As Catholics, we draw near to the Father as we encounter Jesus in the Sacraments. He doesn’t come to us Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity because we’re fancy or deserving. He comes because we need his grace and through it, he strengthen, enlightens and bless us to be his hands and feet. At the end of each mass we receive our “marching orders” as the words “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord” are proclaimed. Those words are an expectation and a direction as we leave our pews and go into the mission field to seek and serve.”
“The stranger isn’t necessarily someone we’ve never met, but rather the person who is a stranger to Jesus. They may be someone across town or the person who lives next door. Jesus is waiting for us to have an encounter with his loving presence so he can transform us and lead us to a life filled with the ultimate happiness and peace. A stranger to Jesus is someone who doesn’t know this good news and it’s our job to seek them, invite them and love them in his name. As D.T. Niles reminds us, seeking the lost and welcoming them into the folds of the Fathers love is like one beggar telling another beggar where to find the bread.”
“So how do we seek the lost and what do we do once we find them? The answer comes in Scripture and in prayer. In Matthew and Mark’s Gospel Jesus said, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus lays it out for us; the first step is simply follow me, trust me, love me. The next step; I’ll do the work; I’ll make you into my disciple and prepare you to do the work of leading souls to my Father. Seeking and serving are the fruits of prayer. Pope Francis said “A persons prayer is pleasing to God when it is accompanied by a life of service to the poor.” Jesus made it clear that he didn’t come into this world to be served but to serve and to teach us how to do the same.”
“So who are the poor? We have encountered the homeless and the destitute but our call to serve the poor goes so far beyond that. When an enthusiastic rich businessman spent a month working with St. Mother Teresa he offered to leave his riches and come work beside her but she encouraged him instead to go home and find his own poor, hungry, lost and his hopeless and we must do the same. How would our parishes and communities be changed if we opened our eyes and hearts to seek and serve those right in front of us who were poor in hope, empty of joy and broken down by the stress and struggles of life. What if we found those who were starving for the love and mercy of Jesus? What if we reached out to that single parent who was frazzled and anxious with the gift of prayer and time? What if we served up some friendly conversation to the lonely old man down the street? What if we reached out with encouragement, kindness and compassionate advice to a confused and troubled teenager? If we did those things, we would be the hands of Christ. The poor wear many disguises. We aren’t being called to build a hospital, orphanage or shelter but we are called to meet people where they are and recognize that we are all broken and poor and in desperate need of God’s love and mercy.”
“Seeking the lost and serving the poor isn’t simply a nice idea, it’s what we were created to do. This is how we grow in holiness and how we honor and serve Christ. Seeking and serving is what allows him to change us and change our hurting world. When we begin to take action we begin to take a step toward Jesus and we will come to realize he’s already there, waiting to love, forgive and guide us.”
* This article first appeared in the Realign Resources for Mission Weekly Update e-mail. Subscribe here: https://dioceseoflansing.flocknote.com/NewsfromtheDioce