Building the Kingdom of God: One Step at a Time
These weeks after Easter have been full of celebration and joy as last week’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles describes how countless numbers of people were converted and – despite persecutions and hardship – the Church grew. I am very proud to relate a story from a few years back, when I learned that a young baby boy I baptized here at Our Lady of the Wayside made a permanent profession of vows to become a Viatorian Brother. Today, Brother Peter Lamick is busy changing the world, and will gladly share a message of how we can make a difference when we embrace the Holy Spirit.
Some ask: Whose job is it to call forth vocations building
the church community and God’s kingdom?
God uses people in evangelism – people like you and me – ordinary folk. The rule of duty here is: God has commanded us to do this: ‘Go into all the world. You are to be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria and in the uttermost parts of the world.’
Father Arthur enthusiastically proclaimed at a recent dinner party, “We must get out there and pursue more vocations.” He knows that last week I routed someone to him that had spent several years considering, and was now ready to talk vocation. 38 years ago I accepted the Holy Spirit’s invitation to serve. Today, we have to take a hard look at some challenges facing our church. In 1975, there were 2,400 ordained priests. Today, there are roughly 1,200. For a variety of reasons, there are currently 123 fewer parishes here in Chicago. So how can things change for the better?
I recall during my college days times when brave evangelizing students, unafraid of potential ridicule, would periodically would knock on our dorm room door, kindly offering conversation and a paperback copy of the new testament: Good News for the Modern Man. This memory connects with last week’s first reading and recalls how Philip the deacon ambitiously ventured away from Jerusalem to Samaria, bent on doing his part converting mixed religion Jews. The world was shocked at his success as converts grew at a phenomenal rate. Biblical history tells an amazing inspirational true story of following the crucifixion of Jesus, demons called out, miracles happening, healing and more. Christianity wasn’t diminished in the physical absence of Jesus. On the contrary, it grew! Fueled by the Spirit we can do our part one-step at a time.
70 years ago a new Arlington Heights pastor, Father Harold T. O’Hara, and a handful of motivated, determined believers undertook the challenge, with the help of the Spirit, to build this Wayside community, its traditions, its ministries and, yes, the buildings. Every contributor along the way, then and now, from laypersons to ordained – all of us – shares the same access and invitation to have a relationship with the Spirit as Philip and the door-knocking college evangelists did. We are commanded to grow!
Mothers, fathers, and all adults, please continue to inspire and to show, by example, how our future generation is commanded by God to partner with the Holy Spirit. Our calling is motivated out of love:
“Be relentless and faithful as God is faithful and relentless towards us.”
Deacon Don Grossnickle