Catechetical Sunday Message
31 January 2021
Parish Communities: Agents of Faith, Hope, Love
God never intended for us to live alone. He calls us to share, serve, heal, work and worship in and with our communities. Church communities are made up of members who come from different backgrounds, ages, experiences and personalities. Captivated by God’s mercy, they respond generously to God’s call whenever they gather as a community, to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and to participate in parish activities. Being an imperfect people, members of these communities also face challenges, constantly struggling with human weaknesses and threatened by opposing forces.
It is undeniable that every move and action within our parish communities, and the Church as a whole, is being scrutinised not only by non-Catholics, but by parishioners themselves, and even by the newly-baptized. Therefore, together as a community, we need to build a good image of the parish through our words and deeds, because we play a vital role in the task of evangelization.
The fundamental virtues of Faith, Hope and Love is the foundation to every Christian life (1 Corinthians 13: 13). As members of the parish community, we should clothe ourselves in Christ (Galatian 3:27), with the virtues of faith and love as a breastplate and our hope of salvation as a helmet (1 Thessalonians 5:8), so as to glorify God and be in communion with each other. We must humble ourselves to practice and cultivate these virtues in order to bear fruit. We must not be influenced by worldly values which are damaging to the life of the parish community. To live the virtues of Faith, Hope and Love, we need to imitate Mother Mary and allow the Holy Spirit to make good use of us as an instrument of love and peace. By doing so, we hope to attract more people to enter into God’s vineyard, to receive His grace, and to bring back to life the ‘dead’ in the community.
As leaders and members of the parish community, we must uphold these virtues. Otherwise, we may stray from the true teachings of God, and our spirituality and morality will be compromised. We may be consumed with pride, self-righteousness, dissatisfaction, jealousy and become judgemental of others; We may be blind to our own mistakes and sins, which may lead to divisions and intolerance toward each other. As scripture says: “The blind cannot lead the blind” (Luke 6:39-42). Neither will we be capable of love and compassion for others, or lead the lost sheep back to God.
As agents of Faith, Hope and Love, we cannot take our role for granted. We should each do our small part and strive to be the “salt of the earth and the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16) in our daily life, as our Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, did. Let us start by seeing Christ in others, and also by being Christ to them by bringing joy, healing and restoration to all. “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” (Saint Teresa of Calcutta). And now faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).