April 19, 2019

Worship and Evangelization Outreach / Theresa Inoue

We are family rooted deeply in love of Christ

My mom has one consistent concern for me: my safety. I can still hear the echoing “Don’t talk to strangers.” But before you think I am going to dismiss parental advice, because that is not what I intend, I do rather want to commend the hospitality of the Hoosier State and encourage us as Christ’s body to bring that same warm welcome to our parish communities.

I have served the Church in central and southern Indiana for almost two years now, and one of the first things that struck me was the hospitality here. I’m originally from San Diego, and while the weather is nice and the people are friendly, there is something quite different about the welcome and continual hospitality I have received here.

During my first couple of months, I was often invited to parishioners’ homes for dinner and a good chat following weekend Masses. Anytime I had car problems, I would have about a dozen offers from co-workers and friends to look at my vehicle. I’ve had young adults offer to be my running or workout buddies.

Most recently while visiting Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish, I had one of the parishioners invite me to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet after an early Saturday morning Mass with other parishioners. I truly have felt like I have become part of the Hoosier family over the last two years, and I am so grateful.

I can’t help but think of Christ’s call to building the family as he was breathing his last on the Cross. “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother’ ” (Jn 19:26-27a). Christ entrusted each of us to his Blessed Mother, and through the waters of baptism, we are entered into the family of the Church.

While every family has its dysfunction and its pain because of sin, there is always some part of our heart that calls us to love our brothers and sisters unconditionally. We are called to love each other just the same.

This Easter season, we will be receiving new brothers and sisters in Christ, building the family of the Church. Additionally, there will be many neighbors and families who have stopped attending weekly Mass but will attend the Easter liturgy. Here we have an opportunity to embrace our family with loving and open arms.

My mom was not wrong in advising me to avoid the stranger, but in the Catholic community, we are not called to be strangers, but rather family. Here in the Hoosier State, there is such a strong familial commitment, which I believe can continue to strengthen our parishes.

This Easter, we are given an opportunity to be good Hoosiers, and even better followers of Christ by welcoming our brothers and sisters with a big smile, a warm hello, and an invitation into our parish family.

If the usual pew you sit in is taken during the Easter liturgy, use it as an opportunity to greet new faces. If you can, invite the catechumen being received into the parish family over for a meal. If there is a new face at Mass, introduce yourself. Nothing can beat the genuine love of the family.

Now more than ever is a time to rejoice, for Christ has conquered every division, sin, and even death. Where sin has alienated us, the grace won by Jesus Christ has restored our relationship with God and with one another. We are not called to be strangers, but rather family rooted so deeply in the love of Christ.

(Theresa Inoue is an Echo Apprentice within the archdiocesan Secretariat for Worship and Evangelization. She can be reached at tinoue@archindy.org.)

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