Sunday, August 17, 2014

Home Sweet Home

"I will bring [foreigners] to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer...for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples."   (Isaiah 56:7)

There is one word that I have heard constantly over the last seven weeks that you have all used to describe this magnificent parish: home!  Time and again people have come up to me or written to me and told me "Father, this is our home."  And a parish should be our home, should be a part of our lives, for it is in our home that we find our family.  Immaculate Conception is our home. For some it is has been their home since the parish was founded 60 years ago, for others, like me, we have felt the warm embrace of this family only recently when we arrived and from the beginning have felt very much at home.  This is because of all of you who make up this extraordinary family. 

Today the readings go out of their way to tell us that everyone belongs in God's house especially those who are foreigners and do not frequent this house.  This not an exclusive club.  In the first reading from Isaiah, the Lord says: "I will bring [foreigners] to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer...for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples."  And this church dedicated to the Immaculate Conception must be a joyful house of prayer, a place where all feel welcomed, and a place where we all find peace.  Here we find peace along our tiring journey.  During the celebration of our 60th anniversary two months ago, Archbishop Wenski told us: "Our parishes, where the community of sojourners meet, are then like way stations along our pilgrim way. Immaculate Conception, of course, is much more than just a simple way station or rest stop: It is truly an oasis."  And this is why we feel this our home because it is indeed an oasis and a place where together we encounter Christ in the Eucharist in this magnificent house of prayer.

But as the great Burt Bacharach wrote so eloquently in song some 50 years ago: "a house is not a home when there's no one there."  There are so many of our brothers and sisters that have forgotten where home is.  They have forgotten that this is the place where they are loved, where they are forgiven, anointed, consecrated, and strengthened in their weakness.  Like the Canaanite woman in the gospel, this is where we find healing and peace.  It is up to us to remind them, to invite them back, and to show them that when we turn on 45th Place is like a yellow brick road that leads us back to our home. I need your help in bringing our brothers and sisters back home.   I am amazed at how many parishioners we have that live so far from here that still make the long journey to see that beautiful bell tower rise up over 45th Place because no matter where they go, Immaculate will always be home.