The Church has been blessed, but those blessings must spread outside its walls. The Church has a ministry in its neighborhood. We reach out as believers, eager to share our lives with others. Here is a practical example.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
A woman who was an advocate for the impoverished had been running a newspaper from her own residence. If space was available, those without refuge were welcome. One day, two women appeared at the door saying they required a place for the night. Megan told them, “You can see we have no room.” The women left dejectedly, but a few days later one returned, prompting Megan to ask, “What happened to your friend?” The answer came: “She died the other night on the streets. She was despondent and threw herself under a train.” The words struck Megan so intensely that she promptly drained the cash box used for her own rent and needs, walked down the street, and rented a flat. The first hospitality house was born. She looked into the eyes of the poor, saw Christ, and realized her need to help build God’s kingdom in this world.
The People of God
The life and work of this saint is a powerful example of stewardship. St. Paul writes to the Christian community at Corinth and tells them they are the Church. Jesus must be their foundation; He is the center from which all grace streams. God’s Son is the foundation upon which the Church is built, but we determine the various manifestations the Church’s ministry takes. As Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 3:10–11, the Church’s ministry is shaped by each builder but always built on the common foundation of the preaching of Jesus Christ.
Paul goes further and tells us that the Holy Spirit has made the Church a community. The Spirit enters the Church and transforms it from individuals to a community of faith. Thus, the community becomes primary; individuals are secondary. Today, we would say there is a need to work for the common good; individual efforts must be directed toward the benefit of all.
Jesus provides new insight into what the Church is when the Lord drives the moneychangers and merchants from the temple. As always, Jesus challenges the prevailing ideas of the Jewish ruling elite. He says the temple will be no longer be a place of selfish business. These enterprises had benefitted the rulers, but what Jesus says is that the temple must serve the needs of the common people. Jesus thus introduces a revolutionary new idea of a community that meets the needs of others. As an example for those like Megan, Jesus renounced a system that oppressed the people and ignored God’s mercy and grace, offering a community of faith as its substitute.
How will you use your God-given gifts and talents to help your community of faith reach out with love to those in your larger community? In these times of uncertainty, the Church can have an even greater impact in the community as we point people to the certainty of God’s love and grace in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Hoping to build community with your church? Try Brian Davies’s book Connected to Christ: Overcoming Isolation through Community.