5 – 6 February 2022
On this feast day, that of Our Lady of the Flight into Egypt, it is customary here to speak of Stewardship. Some of you might remember the days when a screen was pulled down and an overhead projector displayed the finances of the parish. A member from the Parish Finance Council would stand up to speak about the numbers and help to make sense of them. Over the last few years, finances have been considered more explicitly in the context of discipleship, as it will be today.
The church is sometimes described as having something in common with a football match. There are 11 people on the field who play their heart out; there are 7 people on the bench who come in at the last minute and score the winning goal; and there are 50 000 passionate people watching from the stands.
Thanks be to God, there have usually been more than 11 people on the pitch at St Bernadette’s. A tradition exists here of parishioners rolling up their sleeves and getting involved, not only in the life of the parish, also in the work of the diocese, where our parish is well represented. This legacy of service is what inspired many of us to become priests here, to build on the good of previous generations.
Among the stages of our building was participation in Bishop Barron’s course on the New Evangelization. After this course a group of laity sat with me and we wrestled with the question: what does it mean to take responsibility as the church today, for the church tomorrow? Put differently, what does stewardship look like? And what does it mean to be a disciple here?
This group of laity tried to be as specific as possible in answering, which is why, after considerable prayer, discussion and reflection we were able to say: “Discipleship at St Bernadette’s is a commitment to Grow, Serve, and Give.”
Our Lady is the model disciple. Though she was without sin she, like Our Lord, pondered the words of God in her heart and grew in understanding. She carried her Son in her womb, and she followed him when He was an adult; she carried Him again when He lay cold and lifeless in her arms after the cross; and she followed again after His resurrection. She is the model for what it means to say yes to God, to follow him, and to grow ever deeper in love with God.
Our Lady also served. We can imagine Our Lord coming home some days for scheduled meals and bringing with Him some of his friends, still discussing whatever questions they might have started, or still talking about the game they had just played. After His ascension into heaven, Our Lady stayed with St John, whom she cared for as a mother. She was visited by many people whom she instructed to Grow in the true faith.
And Our Lady Gave. She offered the required sacrifices at the Temple, and it is easy to imagine she and St Joseph would have spoken about tithing what little they had. Our Lord was always moved by the generosity of the poor – perhaps he received this formation from the example of his parents.
It is in this context, that of the legacy of our parish, and the example of Our Lady, that we are invited to be purposeful about discipleship. One doesn’t need to join a group, though there are plenty, but each of us is invited to ask ourselves how we are growing, serving and giving for the glory of God and the growth of His Kingdom.
At our parish there are plenty of opportunities to assist you with Christian discipleship. For example, this Friday (11 February) we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the international day of the sick. A candlelight procession will take place in the evening and those in attendance will have the chance to be prayed for. Our presence and participation helps us to grow; our invitation to others is one way we serve.
Continue to keep an eye on the newsletter where you will see many more opportunities to Grow, Serve and Give.