Many times when we sit and listen to people we are told by them they feel they do not fit into any Christian Community properly. They feel they are on the outside.
This raises profound questions about the nature of the church if it believes it is the only instrument of salvation. Or on the other hand, where we see a Pope proclaiming all religions are a path to God, why do people still feel they are outside this universal embrace?
There are many levels to this question that would take more than a single thought for the day. But here are a few things we can reflect on today. As we speak from our chapels, churches, hermitages, has our teaching any relevance to the life of the people around us? Does it answer the deepest longing for the heart for understanding, and compassion by a community?
Does what we teach and how we behave towards people show them truly where Christ is in our midst today ? Or does it simply go over their heads because they are to busy with the demands of everyday life? Do our words bring spiritual comfort to people or condemnation?
On another level is what we say and more importantly how we respond to people actually sometimes leaving them to believe they are being told why Christ is not with them, and why their God-given path in life can not be in the Christian Community?
The Orthodox Metropolitan Anthony once gave a very brief Homily. He said " Last night a woman came into this church who was not Orthodox. Her head was uncovered unlike what we practice. And she was told off for this. She left the church very quickly. I am ordering the person who did this to pray for this woman for the rest of your life. Because of you, she may never enter a church again ." With that, he turned and walked back into the Altar area.
At the Companions of Jesus, it is all in the name. This is what we are inviting you to. To be a friend and companion of Jesus. To start again in your journey of faith. Just simply go back to the books of the Gospels. Read them, meditate on them, and live as Jesus did. Pray as Jesus did, and love as Jesus did. It is simple but profound. With your Brothers and Sisters to find a place of belonging and communion, and not of judgment and condemnation.
Our walking should be preaching. We should only use words in our preaching when necessary. This is our Franciscan way as Companions of Jesus.
Richard Smith Hermitage of Saint Michael and All Angels.