Wednesday, October 26, 2011
The Narrow Gate
Sometimes I compare these two colleges to another catholic college, near my first pastorate. Run by a religious order it has since been sold to a for-profit college company. Sometimes I try to figure out why these two colleges in a blue collar working class town continue to thrive, while another, in a similar community, fails to thrive. The answer I come up with is from Sirach. Sirach states for us, "A people without a vision perishes." While this write is speaking to a particular community, this truth holds for parishes, religions, and institutions.
Our college, and our sister college, directed its educational mission outwards. When it was not doing academic work, we were pushed out into the community. Various groups at both colleges served the city and it's parishes in a variety of ways. More so every year we traveled to Kentucky to work soup kitchens and winterize houses. I so not remember this same sense of mission coming from college number three. There never seemed to be a great connection between the college and the community.
The question this always raises for me is one of vision and mission. Without some sort of interaction and connection with the world around us we become rather shriveled and eventually die. The command that we have been given is to go out into the whole world and proclaim the good news. Our focus is not about what we get out of the ministry, but how we convey the meaning of the Kingdom. When people complain to me that they do not get anything out of church or Church ministry, I always wonder whether their parents felt fulfilled in changing diapers, being vomited on, or listening to temper tantrums.
The Disciple must die to oneself in order to do the work of the Kingdom. There is a real process of setting God first, others second, and we as servants, are number three. The Word and sacraments have to become a regular part of our life, and a challenge to be sure. We do not negotiate with temptations, but move far away from them. That is the narrow door of striving for perfection. That is how we proclaim the Kingsom of God.