Often it is our deep faith that leads us to seek out those in need to offer them a helping hand. We want to put our faith into action. For some, it works the other way around and their actions lead them to a deeper faith.
We usually notice the people who come to our parish in great numbers on Christmas, Ash Wednesday, and Easter. But more frequently, people slip into a Sunday liturgy, a daily Mass, or a parish prayer service, and sit alone in the back of the church.
The Holy Spirit is constantly speaking to us in an effort to draw us closer to Christ. Sometimes it is an intuition, a fleeting thought, a strange coincidence, or the deep feeling that something is missing in our lives. Sometimes we may feel the Holy Spirit nudging us, but we decide to ignore it. Sometimes we forget to listen.
Christ calls us to take risks in order to open ourselves and invite others to an encounter with him. In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis offers this guidance, "The Gospel tells us constantly to run the risk of a face-to-face encounter with others, with their physical presence which challenges us, with their pain and their pleas, with their joy which infects us in our close and continuous interaction. [EG 88]"
Br. Tyrone Davis, CFC, Director of the Office of Black Ministry in the Archdiocese of New York, has a few simple messages about welcoming in a parish environment. Leaders can start by making hospitality important in word and deed, and then asking parishioners to extend a friendly greeting.