forest w red leaves - smallWritten By: Patrick Sullivan

While on vacation this summer, out and about in the wilderness that is Canada, we fulfilled our Sunday obligation as we always do by visiting the nearest local Catholic Church. And while we have come to lower the bar for these religious services, we had to admit that this time the celebrating priest left us much to think about.

His homily was essentially a mini tour of God’s gathering power throughout history. And while his delivery was not the most eloquent that I had ever heard, he did impress me with a larger vision of the Scriptures than we were used to hearing.

In brief, he discussed the Lord’s desire to bring in the Nations (i.e. the non-Jews) so that they too may be blessed, and the priest highlighted (as we often need to) that salvation is from the Jews.

The Church then was God’s gathering force to accomplish this desire. It was and is essentially the vehicle by which the Lord makes, sanctifies and sends forth his ambassadors into the world. Far from being the political side of religion or what some have called a spiritual parasite, the Church is a life that brings spiritual life in Christ. Without it, the blessings given to Abraham could not be fulfilled. Without the Church, the Word of God found in the Bible could not reach the ears of every generation.

Of course, it is easy to be cynical about the Church because of who is in it. And often, when we hear of someone loving the Church, it can quite easily be because they have found a more subtle way to love themselves. But such thoughts never entered into the priest’s homily, nor did he find time or the energy to refute them. His aim was to help us see what God has always been doing among us, and to that end he finished by recommending some reading on the subject (which I could happily say, was sitting on my table back at the camp site).

But you know; the whole experience has left me to reconsider how I choose my vacation spot. Up to this point, I have never done so based on the church that I would be attending. After all, I still have much to learn, and what better place to do that than in the middle of God’s green creation, and from someone you would least expect. Can I plan for the same pleasant surprise to happen next year? Probably not, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if it did.

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