Christmas is often described as the Annual Homecoming of Catholics. It’s like, “Here comes the crowd.” It’s that time of the year when we gather to worship the God incarnate as a baby, who we claim as the savior of the world. Se aparece imposible! The church and the parking lot is undeniably, jam-packed. The presence of a humungous crowd of people is a joy to behold and brings to mind both the spiritual and religious significance of Christmas, the starting point of Christianity. It’s overwhelming, to say the least. Numbers and eyes don’t lie but I must admit as a Parish Priest, it’s short- lived. They came to attend and show up and that’s as far as they can go and perhaps, just checking us out. For as long as the church building stands tall and the altar beautifully decorated, quote from anonymous, “I ain’t worried at all.”
I’ll see them maybe next year, if I’m lucky, Ash Wednesday, Easter or Christmas, otherwise, hard to tell when. This whole pastoral strategy usually depends on the resources of the parish to sustain the growing ranks of parishioners led by an inexperienced Asian- looking fellow as well as on the strong forces of society and its entire make-up reducing religion into a merely personal and private domain with no commitment to a local parish community. This marvelous occasion provides huge and amazing opportunities to welcome them, the Inactive, the non-practicing, back into the fold.
If you’ve been out for sometime, found the Mass boring and stopped going, adopted “the Cafeteria model”, joined the popular secular religious opinion about what the “Catholic” church is for, disappointed with some members, didn’t like the Priest, his looks, style and all, shopped around for parishes, got one but eventually, drifted away, even if, you still have the Catholic DNA.
This is where you belong. Welcome back! Amen.