I have a lot of people ask me why I joined Corpus Christi Church…there are many reasons…after you read Father Anzelm’s Homily from the Dozynki Mass, I think you will get a better understanding why.
Father did the Homily in Polish…though I understand some of the language, it wasn’t until Corpus Corpus Parish Council President Andy Golebiowski explained to me what the Homily was about that I understood what Father was talking about. I really didn’t understand the gravity of it all until Andy graciously translated the Homily into English.
So here it is…please comment if you would like…it is an important and powerful message.
Lord, will only a few be saved ? This was the question of today’s Gospel, which is a question for each one of us: will only a few of us or will all of us be saved ? Jesus does not, in fact, answer us directly. He does not tell us the number of how many will be saved, playing some mathematical game, but as always, speaks of something different, using a parable to tell us who can be saved.
Lord, will only a few be saved ? Let us look for example at the tens of thousands of people in the stadiums, at the movie theaters packed with people, at the malls and shopping plazas, how crowded they are, and then let’s look at the churches on the East Side, in the city. How many people attend daily Mass or Sunday Mass in the beautiful and enormous church like St. Adalbert’s, St. Stan’s, St. John Kanty’s or Corpus Christi. Some of these churches have 20 or 30 people at the main Mass. Is not the question aimed at all of us ? Where will my family be, where will I be ? In today’s Gospel Jesus says that we should enter through the narrow gate, rather than through the wide gates that lead the masses of people, through which all enter without thinking. What does it mean to enter through the narrow gate for us here and now ?
For me, for example, to walk through the narrow gate would mean to drive to St. Stan’s, drive to St. Adalbert’s or St. John Kanty’s, or to drive to Corpus Christi rather than to an English church that’s two minutes from my house, one that’s so close that I can even walk to it. I, a Polish man or Polish woman can walk through the wide gate, take the easier path, or I can drive 20 minutes to my ethnic church and support my traditions, my homeland and my language.
Could taking the narrow gate mean that I won’t complain that the Bishop is closing churches, because it’s easier to find someone who is responsible for all the bad that happens, when something is being done not according to our wishes ? Or perhaps should it be as Jesus tells us, that before we want to remove the splinter from someone else’s eye, we should first remove the wooden beams from our own eyes, that instead of complaining about the Bishop for closing our Polish churches, that we ourselves become concerned about those same churches; instead of walking to English ones, we drive to a Polish one, and create an atmosphere in the church, our own climate, the one that we would want to be present, not just to wait for a theater performance to take place before me, but to participate in the performance and to become a performer myself as a member of that parish.
I won’t name names, but for me a great example of hope for our parish is a person who comes to our church every Sunday. This person is not Polish, but of German background. After attending Mass here, he goes to another church that has the same problem, and he goes to different such churches every Sunday in order to support them. He has said to himself: “ I cannot sit in my easy chair and complain that everything is falling apart, that the cities are crumbling. I have to do something, I myself have to do something.” And so for the last four years he has been supporting Corpus Christi and other churches. This is heroic, it means walking through the narrow gate which is more difficult, which demands much more of me than just complaining that someone else is doing something wrong.
Would we be able to find such an ignorant Bishop anywhere in the world who would close churches overflowing with people ? No, and our Bishop would like to build more churches, if only the people would be there. That’s why we need to beat our own chest, we need to first remove the wooden beams from our own eyes if we want to remove a splinter from someone else’s eye. We have to examine our own faithfulness to Christ.
What then, are our Dozynki ? The word “dozynac” means to cut, to cut wheat, to cut grain; I cut something down. But one could also cut down a person who is barely alive, someone who is barely breathing, finish him off and kill him. One can also do that to these churches. I finish off that which barely breathes. Or I can be a Samaritan who will take an interest, who will come and help.