To love as Christ loves, to serve as Christ serves.
Members of a discipleship parish are ready to minister to the varied needs of their own parish family as well as the needs of the wider community and Church. Just as members of a family come to help one of their own, a discipleship parish family serves those who are hurting or in need, doubting or seeking salvation. The parish family also comes together to celebrate, thank and to return God’s gifts – all are needs of parishioners.
Like a blood family, the parish actually stands ready and eager collectively to wrap their arms around their brothers and sisters when they suffer in trial and/or celebrate special events in their lives. “God so constructed the body, that there may be no dissension in the body, but that all the members may be concerned for one another. If one member suffers, all members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all members share its joy.” (1 Cor.12: 24b, 25-26)
We seek the parish family as a primary community to serve and to be served – to give and to receive. If a parishioner finds they can serve and be ministered to, they have little need to search elsewhere for this fulfillment. Likewise, they have recognized a place where their service is appreciated and utilized for the good of the Church.
But the members of a discipleship parish recognize that they also have a need to give beyond their own members. We have a need to serve and to give in the diocese, the com- munity and the Universal Church. Failure to have this understanding leads to selfish parochialism, which is draining to a parish discipleship way of life. This is a challenge to some parishioners, who are willing to serve their own, but no outsiders. Interestingly, if this is the mindset of a particular parish, chances also exist that such a parish does not fully embrace the concept of hospitality.
To love as Christ loves and to serve as Christ serves, through the concrete practice of hospitality, prayer and formation, we will grow to become a true discipleship parish that lives Jesus.
Excerpts are from the document The Pillars of Stewardship, prepared by the Office of Stewardship, Catholic Diocese of Wichita KS, May 2004, and from “Live Jesus: Historical Background of the Introduction to the Devout Life,” Armind Nazareth, MSFS, Studies in Salesian Spirituality, April-June 2005.