I’ve always been enthralled with the simplicity of the Christian dynamic summed up in two words: “come” and “go”. Christ’s call to his disciples and in fact to each one of us Christians is an invitation from Christ “come, follow me”. After living the experience and encounter with Christ, the disciples were commanded to “go and preach to all nations”. Simple but not exactly easy.
When I came as pastor to Sacred Heart Church in Calgary the image of Christ’s beating heart has been an inspiration for the mission and work of our parish church. One paragraph in Pope Francis’ address to participants in the Pilgrimage of Catechists on the occasion of the Year of Faith struck me as pertinent to our church:
I am one with Jesus and I go forth to encounter others. If one of these movements is missing, the heart no longer beats, it can no longer live. The heart of the catechist receives the gift of the kerygma, and in turn offers it to others as a gift. What a little word: “gift”! The catechist is conscious of having received a gift, the gift of faith, and he or she then gives that gift in turn to others. This is something beautiful. We don’t keep a percentage for ourselves! Whatever we receive, we give! This is not commerce! It is not a business! It is pure gift: a gift received and a gift given. And the catechist is right there, at the centre of this exchange of gifts. That is the nature itself of the kerygma: it is a gift that generates mission, that compels us to go beyond ourselves….And so it is: love attracts us and sends us; it draws us in and gives us to others. This tension marks the beating of the heart of the Christian, especially the heart of the catechist. Let us all ask ourselves: Is this what causes my heart to beat as a catechist, union with Christ and encounter with others? With this movement of “systole and diastole”? Are we being fed by our relationship with the Lord, so that we can bring him to others, and not to keep it for ourselves? (Address of Pope Francis, 27 September 2013)
I felt convinced that our church had to bring that same dynamic of a beating heart to all who walks through our doors. Next we had to develop a pathway of evangelization for our work and we based it off of the chambers of the heart. Hospitality is the entry, discipleship and spiritual formation is the second chamber, worship is the height and most important chamber and last is sending out to evangelize. So our parishioners are encouraged to be drawn into this pathway of Christ’s heart.
Of course the pandemic has impacted our ability and forced us to do things in different ways. It has definitely been a challenging time but I believe that the need and opportunities for evangelization are greater now that when the pandemic began. It still highlights the simplicity of the Christian call to enter Christ’s heart and allow him to send us forth.
Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, touch our hearts and make them like your own.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers