Friday, May 29, 2015

To the Mountain

The Gospel for this weekend is brief in length but heavy in significance.  On Sunday we will hear last five verses of Matthew's Gospel and it will give us the story of the Jesus' charge to the Apostles with this penultimate statement:
"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19)."
It is interesting to note, however, that Matthew's Gospel does not tell the story of Pentecost like we read elsewhere in the New Testament- with the disciples locked in the room and tongues of fire coming down to them or Jesus appearing to them and breathing on them.  Instead, Matthew's Gospel sets them on a mountain following the orders of Jesus from the Resurrection.  The footnotes suggest the mountain may be the same on upon which these same disciples experienced Jesus' Transfiguration, where they witnessed Jesus in radiant glory.  This seems significant because mountain tops can give a unique perspective.  First, if you are standing on the top, or close to the top of a mountain, even a good sized hill for that matter, you are set away from a majority of regular civilization.  It can often be a quite place that allows you to see things from a different perspective.  Second, you usually have to work to get there.  Climbing or walking up to some summit point is not always an easy task- perhaps made even more difficult when we think about the time of the disciples and their lack of modern walking and climbing gear.  Finally, when we think of a mountain, we think of being up at a higher altitude.  As you climb the height, you get closer to the heavens or closer to God.  All of these factors help us to understand why the disciples would have been told to go to the mountain to meet Jesus.

His order to them, commonly known as the Great Commission, required them to see things from a different perspective, work a little harder, and be closer to God in comparison to their 'normal' lives.  Making disciples of all nations was not, is not, and will not ever be easy work.  Jesus calls us to take on the same mission today in our everyday lives.  We are to bring people to Christ through the way that we live, the way we act, and the way we treat others.  It may require us to see things differently, maybe from another person's perspective.  It will require us to work hard to get there; the road will be rough to travel and it will seem like an uphill battle.  It will also require us to work to be closer to God ourselves.  How can we truly bring people to Christ if we are not trying to get there ourselves?

This is our missionary work.  Pope Francis is continually preaching this message to us, but especially to the youth and the young adults of the Church.  We are called to go out and meet people where they are and invite them into the Church with us.  Instead of telling people what they can and cannot do in the context of faith, let's make the climb with them and help one another each step of the way.  Once we can get to the top, we will be rewarded.  The view from the top of the mountain with Christ is beautiful.  Let's help each other get to this place!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A New Look

Welcome to The Flock's Feed- the official blog of Good Shepherd Catholic Parish.  As part of our continued effort to serve the people of Good Shepherd, we have introduced a new suite of tools to reach our parishioners, visitors, and others more effectively through avenues of new media.

For over 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has been working to evangelize, spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, to all the world.  With over 1 billion people worldwide, the Church has done a pretty good job at getting her message out to the masses.  As we have come into this age of technology and social media, however, the Church has sometimes lagged behind in adapting to new ways of communication.

On the first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down to the first Apostles and gave them the mission to go out and spread the message of Christ to all nations.  So today, on this Feast of Pentecost, the birthday of the Universal Church AND our first parish mass celebrated as a community, it is most appropriate that we introduce to you our refreshed and renewed communication means!

The weekly bulletin has been a mainstay of Catholic parishes forever.  Every once and a while, it is good to freshen things up.  As you have seen on this Pentecost weekend, our bulletin has a refreshed look with a new cover page and inside layout.  You will find a lot of the same information it each bulletin with just a slightly different look.  Bulletins are important because the parish is able to transmit a large amount of information directly to the people who come to mass each week.  

The largest amount of new media usage comes through the Internet.  You will notice we have revamped our parish website, from which you probably came to this page from.  The website is built through a content management system known as eCatholic, a company that was started by a group of Catholic men looking to make a difference in Catholic communications.  Recently our diocese, the Diocese of Paterson, has made a connection with eCatholic and has encouraged all parishes to look into the use of this hosting system for their websites.  Our website, like the bulletin, has a lot of the same information you could find on the former site plus more!  You will find information about our parish history, the sacraments, our ministries, ways that you can get involved, and resources to other helpful Catholic sites.  You will also find our weekly bulletin, our parish calendar, and Religious Education class schedules.  It has a fresh look with new pictures of our beautiful church building and the gems in and around it.  Make sure you mark in your favorites list so you can come back easily each time.

On the website you will also see links to our social media pages on Twitter and Facebook.  Since both of these platforms are quite prevalent among a variety of age groups, we hope to use Facebook and Twitter has a means of quick communication and open discussion and sharing among our followers.  

In the coming months, we hope to introduce you to these newer ways of communicating for us as a parish.  We will strive to keep our pages and sites current and vibrant as it is our hope that you will not only rely on them for information, but enjoy visiting them as well to help you learn about the faith and deepen your own spiritual life!