I am shocked that the events of the past days have cast a shadow on my recent post on hospitality, where I urged churches to step up their efforts to become places of welcome. My post spoke about the Disney slogan of being “the happiest place on earth,” and that truly our parishes where one meets the real presence of Jesus Christ should be the happiest places on earth.
The Orlando shootings took place before my post. My heart and prayers go out to all the families of the victims. Disney is not the same as Orlando, for there are Disney properties all over the world. But then a tragedy occurred on a Disney property. The life of a small child was over at the hand of an alligator. Again, my heart breaks for the suffering of now another family. Certainly, Disney (and Orlando) is right now anything but the happiest place on earth.
But there is even more need for a spirit of welcoming and hospitality in our places of worship. Where there is pain, let us bring comfort. Where there is despair, may we bring hope. Where there is injury, let us offer God’s pardon.
I thought about taking down the previous post, but I now think that the true sentiment of the piece is more important now than ever. We live in a world that often times seems filled with hatred, evil, and sin. However, the sun always chases away the darkness. Regardless of what it may seem, I will continue to maintain that there is always more good than bad, more peace than war, and more love than hate.
This Sunday, make sure the doors of your parish are wide open and people standing there offering peace and joy to those weary travelers, from wherever they may come. Their pain may be great, and their sins hidden within their hearts, but we all feel pain and we are all sinners before God. This Sunday, make sure all that seek solace in your community know they not only are welcome, but they belong.