Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ordinary 29 Thursday

A priest from Nepal, once shared with me his amazing conversion story. Born and raised a Hindu, Fr. Silas Bogati became involved with the American “hippie” drug scene of Katmandu in the 1970’s. He was headed down the wrong path until he was introduced to Jesus Christ by a street preacher.

Fr. Silas was ultimately was ordained the first native-born Nepalese priest. But his conversion came at a terrible cost. When he became a Christian, Fr. Silas was shunned by his Hindu family because, according to the caste system, he had become an “untouchable.”

Many of the earliest Christians, who were Jewish, experienced much the same thing, because when Jews became Christian, they were expelled from the local synagogue and effectively cast out of their families. Jesus’ words in today’s gospel about divided families spoke directly to their situation, and to their pain.

However, these early believers must have been consoled by the fact that by following Jesus they received a new family: the Church, a family of brothers and sisters in Christ, united not by blood ties, but by the unbreakable bonds of the Holy Spirit.

The same is true today. We Christians, throughout the world, are one big family. And in a world full of broken families, families separated by great distances, and those who have no families, this reality should fill many people with inspiration and hope.

The task for us, however, is to act and live as if we are family. In our parish communities, we need to work at being welcoming, friendly, and inclusive. We need to serve one another, respond to one another’s needs, and challenge, support, and pray for each other. In short, we need to make our parishes feel like family to attract those who are looking for a new family to call their own.

(My book of daily meditations for Lent, to be published by Ave Maria Press in November, is available for pre-order: )

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