Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Daily Advent Inspiration

Transcript of homily recorded on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011

Daily Advent Inspiration for Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 (Wednesday of the First Week of Advent)

By Father Perry D. Leiker

The idea of being called and being sent are so fundamental in our faith. In fact, they are wrapped around the very foundation of our faith in the call and the sending of the apostles. We think so often about who was called — laborers, fishermen, even tax collectors, people who were not included in society but were considered sinful and outcast. Jesus chose, many would say, a motley crew. And then he prepared them; he spent a lot of time with them; he modeled for them what he was calling them to do. He was really forming true disciples, and then he sent them forth. And we know that; and we know that every time we celebrate one of the apostles, we're celebrating one of those foundations and the call and the sending. But, the truth is, all of us participate in that.

Because our church has always been very much a hierarchical church with one person at the top — oh, my God, can you imagine? One person. And then, we have these cardinals and all the bishops, priests, deacons, all the way down to the laypeople. That was the vision we often had. Up until Vatican II that was clearly the vision. But in Vatican II, a different kind of thinking developed, where we were all in this together. And although there are different responsibilities, different authority, everybody, everybody who is baptized is called and sent. So a different model emerged. It's the one that I believe in much more so and is right at the center — the pastoral role, the role of responsibility. I prefer that even more than authority: responsibility. And then in concentric circles around it, become the people who are sharing different levels of responsibility. Now all of them very much on the same level, but at the center is the full responsibility — that would be the pope, and then the bishops surrounding, and then the clergy, and the religious, and then the diaconate, and all the way out to the ends. But everybody shares responsibility.

And further, there's a principle that I believe Jesus believed in. He had to, because he handed this thing over to us. It's the principle of subsidiarity. And the principle of subsidiarity says this: Whatever can be handled at the lowest level, you do it here. You don't have somebody up here have to OK it. So somebody does not have to come and to me and say, "Father Perry, I found some papers on the floor of the church. Can I pick them up?" Of course you can pick them up! You don't have to ask me that. "Father Perry, the door was open; I closed it. Was that OK?" Of course! Please believe in the principle of subsidiarity with me, that I don't that have to be asked every single thing that somebody can do. I hope this is how parents raise their children so they're building into them a sense of responsibility and a sense of ownership: this is my church; this is my church, of course I'll do what I can do.

But Jesus, I believe, really believed this. He believed that when he calls us and sends us, he's empowering us to grow in our understanding of God, of church, our faith community, to grow in a sense of awareness that I am called. This is just not a club, this is a call to belong as a son or daughter of God, as a disciple of Jesus. I belong to this community of faith. I am responsible. I don't care what anyone else says — even the pastor — I am responsible for doing all I can to build the kingdom and to share this gift of faith that I have been given. I am a disciple of Jesus.

Personally I think it's very lacking in our church, this sense. Not that people don't believe in God or believe in Jesus or they don't come to church, but this sense of discipleship — it's very different than just belonging to the church.

I have been called anointed, and I am sent forth. And my life as a Christian is to share Jesus Christ with others. To share his good news. To draw people closer to him and give them the chance to know him, because I will introduce him. A faith community that believes they are all disciples is very different than a faith community whose very faithful comes to church very faithfully, never misses. A community of disciples is really what Jesus is trying to form.

So today we celebrate Andrew, one of the apostles, the brother of Peter, fisherman, someone who gave his life, and in the Gospel we hear this lovely call: he just drops his nets and goes because he's heard a call. And it's hearing that call — and it's kind of important if we can name it. You see most of us were baptized as babies. We didn't hear a call. We were born into it. But somewhere along the line we have to try to name what that call means. Even though I was not given a choice and baptized into my faith, I believe Jesus is calling me and wants to use me as a true instrument of his grace and love.

So we have to hear it, listen to it, define it, and then accept the call, and in that way, our discipleship really comes alive and we understand the purpose and the role, the life, that we have in the church and the possibility of helping to create the kingdom of God — build the kingdom of God — because we have been sent to this place as members of the kingdom, as disciples of Jesus.

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.

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