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May 14, 2017

A young Catholic man decided to enter a monastery. He joined one particularly strict sect. The head monk told him, at his indoctrination, that they were sworn to TOTAL silence. They could not speak one word at all. However, every ten years, they would be permitted to speak two words. After 10 years of total silence, the head monk indicated it was now time for him to speak his two words. The young monk said, “Bed hard!” And then he resumed his silent study and work. Another 10 years passed and the head monk again indicated it was time for him to speak his two words. The monk said, “Food bad!” And then he resumed his silent study and work. Another 10 years passed and the head monk again indicated it was time for him to speak his two words. The monk said, “I quit!” The head monk shook his head and said, “I knew this was coming. You’ve done nothing but complain for the past 30 years!”

The story above of course is a made up story but it tells a certain truth in our life.  Many people who quit an organization, a club or a parish or the Church had done nothing but complain. We read this weekend the words of the First Pope, Peter, “Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).    The Church is as a spiritual building constructed of living stones with Christ himself as the cornerstone.  Christ is the Church’s sole foundation, the way, the truth and the life.  In that spiritual edifice wherein we are all the living stones; there are a variety of ministries, and all contribute to the community’s welfare.

As living stones Christians are involved in every aspect of life: a life with God and a life with others.  We are living stones because we are united with the one irreplaceable foundation, Christ the Lord, through prayer, worship and sacraments.  We live because the life that binds him and the Father reaches us as well.

But there is also a horizontal dimension.  The living stones are involved in ministry.  The first reading from the Acts of Apostles speaks of shared responsibility, of a move away from a top-heavy structure of authority.  And ministry is a “diakonia,” a form of Christian service, deaconate.  With the great variety of outreach ministries in the Church today, it would be wrong to see this preponderantly in terms of religious life.  Yet it is undeniable that historically religious life, besides the religious service in worship and liturgy, has given a very striking and vivid expression to the ministry of service: accompanying immigrants, assisting the dying, nursing during epidemics, instructing the unlettered, healthcare and food for the poor, etc.  The loving service is at the heart of believers because the call to serve is the call of the Good Shepherd.

I appreciate many of you, the living stones, who have cared for the Church and especially for this parish community.  Devotions and prayers help the church and the parish grow.  The volunteers show their love to do sacrificial service in community.  The outreach and support reflect the ministry of Jesus.  Christ is a cornerstone of the Church and each of you is the living stone in that building.  How strong you are in faith and service will determine how good and stable the Church is. May God bless you.