What is Important

Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about what is really important.  As you know we serve a meal here at our Church twice a month.  The meal is offered free to people in the community who are in need in one way or another.  It might be economic or it might be that the person is alone, whatever the reason, they come and in increasing numbers.  Many of the people who come are just trying to survive life in this crazy world we are living in.

If you have been paying any attention at all to the news then you are aware of the horrible situation in the Middle East.  That part of the world that seems to always be at war and once again, civilians are caught in the middle.  Muslims, Jews, Christians are all under fire and being killed in the streets for being on the wrong side.  Yes the Christian population is taking the hardest hit but we must be concerned for all involved and pray that this situation come to an end and soon.

Natural disasters, children dying, family health issues all add to my mind and my thoughts about what is important in life and how we should go about doing what we do.

I have been very impressed the Pope Francis and his desire to reform the Church.  He is taking the call of St. Francis in a serious way and he is making people nervous.  I do not think he is going to make the change that many would like, I do not think you will see women priests or the end of the celibate priesthood for example, but there is a change afoot.

Recently he spoke about the focus of the Church and made some comments about emphasizing the rules over love of individuals.  In Orthodoxy we would call this economia or Orthodox Praxis.  We are certainly a Church a rules, if you think the Church of Rome has rules check us out sometime, and I agree that rules are important, but I think we sometimes hide behind those rules too much.  Sometimes the rules make us very judgmental and we lose sight of the person standing before us.

In my sermon this past Sunday, I spoke about how Jesus interacted with people.  Jesus talked to everyone, and from my read of Scripture, He did not judge them.  Sure He told them their life might not be going in the right direction but He never judged them, He simply loved them and it was that love that people were attracted too.

The Church of the day was very harsh and the Church leaders of the day were corrupt and did not have the best interest of the people in mind all of the time, this is the Church that Jesus came to reform and He reformed it with love.  What Pope Francis is talking about it the same thing, not a change in theology or doctrine or even in practice, but what he is talking about is how we interact with people.  I know it is a cliché but, what the world needs now is love!

I am not saying that we need to change the rules, far from it, but what I am advocating is that we place less emphasis on the rules and more emphasis on the simplicity of the Gospel message and that is love.  You can be the best faster in the world, you can follow the rules to the finest point, read labels to ensure that there is no a speck of meat in what you are going to eat, but if you despise your fellow man then you might as well eat that meat.  I am as guilty of this as the next guy and that is the problem.

In today’s local paper there is a story about the color of a building located in downtown Southbridge.  For as long as I have lived here this building has been an eyesore right in the middle of downtown, it is one of the first buildings you see when you drive into town.  The man who purchased the building, and I know him, painted the building a striking yellow color and it has attracted some comments from the leadership in the town.  Maybe it is a bit too bright but the building has been saved, it is one of the oldest buildings in town, and it will bring in some news businesses to our town.  But we are focused on the color of the building!

We have a high unemployment rate, almost 15% of the population lives at or below the poverty level, most of the stores down town are vacant, taxes are on the rise, the school system is underperforming, crime is on the rise and we are choosing to focus on the color of a building down town, so I ask, what is really important?

I will continue to think about what is important and I will continue to ask the questions, some of you might get upset by this and that is fine, but I believe that as a church we need to refocus our attention on what is important and that is people and loving them, as Jesus taught us.

1 Comment

  1. Father Preble
    It could not have been said any better. The world is in turmoil, our government, and with so many important issues facing the community of Southbridge, our leaders are concerned with the color of a building on Main Street. Wow. Not living I don’t keep up with all the issues including this one, but I am grateful for what Gabe has done in the community he has taken buildings that in all probability would have seen the wrecking ball and rehab them into a sustainable tax making properties. Maybe some of our leaders should come down to Florida where I now live and see some of the sites that are never seen in Southbridge. I travel to Gainesville twice a week to volunteer with the Red Cross and everyday I go by the city plaza/common area and cant believe the amount of homeless, hungry people sleeping on the sidewalks. I can only imagine what the leaders of Southbridge would have to say. So I say so what to the color..Look at the big picture. Thanks and have a great day.

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