“All Are Welcome” … Really?

by | Sep 23, 2022 | Formation, Reflections

What does that really mean?

Few English-speaking Catholics in the US who have not sung Marty Haugen’s hymn “All are welcome!”

“All are welcome! All are welcome! …Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live.”

Sunday worship as a metaphor

Yet, Martin Luther King famously said over 50 years ago…

“We must face the sad fact that at eleven o’clock on Sunday morning when we stand to sing ‘In Christ there is no East or West,’ we stand in the most segregated hour of America.”

  • Today, often Spanish-speaking Catholics, as well as African-Americans, do not feel welcome in all “white” parishes.
  • Where are the “Nones?” They are the fastest growing “religion” in the US.
  • Do “trads” or traditionalists feel at home in the average catholic parish?
  • Where are the young?
  • Is there a place for the many kinds of outcasts Jesus took in?

We are many decades into the phenomenon of shopping for “gated communities” of like-minded people.

So many do not experience that they are welcome.

“The Chosen”

Jesus’ choices of people, commonly referred to as the“Chosen,” have raised questions for me.

I refer to the two seasons of the internet series “The Chosen.” I am coming to appreciate why the series has had well over 400 million, yes 400 million, viewers around the world in dozens of languages.

I finally understand why the producers claim that they are not rewriting the scripture but providing plausible “back stories.” They hope that viewing each episode will spark people to take the scripture more seriously. It has had exactly that effect on me.

In one sense, I know the scriptures very well. But I am discovering how to enter more deeply into the world of scriptures. I am coming to appreciate the resonances of today’s world as I pray with the scriptures.

I am learning to recognize myself and the underlying issues of our common human journey. Now I see more clearly today’s counterparts of “the chosen.” In each episode, I see their journeys as they respond not only to Jesus’ call but also to his call to respect one another and appreciate their different journeys.

The journeys’ of those Jesus chose spread the “good news” of God’s unconditional love

Thanks to imaginative episodes I see how Jesus welcomed outcasts and marginalized as his inner core of disciples.  They were attracted to Jesus… but also had to struggle in their relationships with those around them!

Think about…

  • Matthew was not only an apostate Jew. He had a history of extorting the people who nurtured him. How difficult it must have been for “faithful” Jews to accept him with his baggage.
  • Peter not only left his nets to follow Jesus.  But had to work out new relationships with his wife and mother.
  • Mary of Magdala could have been scarred by sexual abuse that led to a life as a prostitute.
  • What was the cost to Nicodemus, a member of the religious establishment, to secretly explore whether Jesus might really be the one?

They not only had their personal histories to deal with. They also had to learn to accept others who did not share their beliefs and practices.

All this helps me understands Pope Francis’ reminder…

“We learn that the Eucharist is not only a reward for the good but also the strength for the weak and for sinners. It is forgiveness and sustenance which helps us on our journey”.

“Do this in memory of me!

  • Am I aware my journey is not only to accept God’s love .. but to “pay it forward” by welcoming outcasts as Jesus did?

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk



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