Friends With God
Thoughts on the Second Readings -Joe Frankenfield
First Sunday of Advent
1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2
A number of years ago a couple returned to visit the parish I was working in after having moved out West several years before. They now lived in a Mexican-American community. “We never expected to find a parish as good as this one,” they said, “but we did. The church is poor and every free foot of wall holds a statue painted in primary colors but the priest is nice and his homilies are short. The people make it though. They’re so welcoming whether it’s at Mass or on the streets during the week. Everyone’s really there for one another. We wish you could visit.”
When folks evaluate a parish they generally look for two qualities: friendliness and supportive liturgy. Of the two, friendliness comes in first especially if the parish is small and people work and socialize with one another during the week. If the parish is bigger and people rarely see each other outside of Mass, the focus tends towards church and clergy.
The importance of friendship in faith is worth reflecting on because it highlights important facts. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time we follow Christ without need of hierarchical authority or clerical services. We rely on our own and our friends’ common sense, knowledge, courage and energy to build our bit of God’s creation. We pretty much know what needs to be done and the values we want to uphold doing it. We count on our friends (those easy to get along with and those “not so much”) to support us, our work and our values.
When we take part in Eucharist, we do so as friends. The prayers remind us of who we are together and our union with Christ for the world. It is we who receive Christ in communion – not just I as an individual – we who work together and with God through the week.