Sunday, July 9, 2017
In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear Jesus speak some of the warmest and most comforting words in the Scriptures. “Come to me, all who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
Who were the people that flocked around Jesus and who found welcome and solace in his teaching and in his touch? It was those who were hurting and lost, those who were the outcast and the unloved, those who were sick and broken, those who were notorious sinners and the disgraced. Somehow, they knew that here was a man of God whom they could approach and not be shamed or rejected or despised.
Pope Francis has said that the Church must function as a “field hospital,” as a place where the broken and wounded children of God can find healing and comfort and love. I like that image a great deal. A field hospital is one that is located in the midst of the battle—not far off in a safe place. It is where those who are wounded can find immediate assistance and support, where they can be cared for and given the treatment and assistance that they need.
Mother of God Church has a history of trying to be a field hospital. It was from this parish that Parish Kitchen and Welcome House were born. There was a recognition that we were surrounded by people who were facing a crisis in the most basic of their needs, and this community made a conscious choice to do something about it. Just across the street from MOG is a small building that once belonged to the parish, and which housed the first Alcoholics Anonymous clubhouse in Northern Kentucky. Known simply as Russell Street, it provided several AA meetings a day for several years and was instrumental in the recovery of thousands of those suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction.
It is my hope that Mother of God Church will continue to serve as a field hospital. This will happen in many ways. Our support, with time, talent and treasure, of the local ministries and programs that serve the neediest of the brothers and sisters of Jesus, and of our offering a worship place where all can be welcomed and loved as children of God.
My vision, and I hope that you share this with me, is that Mother of God will be a parish where people who feel alienated and hurt by the Church, who feel rejected and judged for their sins, their addictions, and their pasts, will know that here they will not be judged, they will not be looked down upon, and they will not be shamed.
The Church is the Body of Christ, and that means that we must make Jesus present to the world. In order to do that, we must make the same promise to the people of our time that Jesus made to the people of his. “Come to me, all who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and gentle of heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
— Fr. Mike Comer