Investing in Our Relationship With God

This past Saturday the parish staff celebrated the wonderful volunteers of our parish with the annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. It was a great celebration to honor those who have so graciously given their time throughout the year. We had parishioners in attendance who participate in liturgies, assist in the office, serve donuts, teach our youth, serve people in need, help maintain the buildings and grounds, and those who have joined new committees. There are so many options in which to volunteer that I cannot possibly name them all. This dinner is chance for the staff to say “THANK YOU!” We could not possibly do what we do without the assistance of our volunteers. If you could not make the celebration this past weekend, perhaps you can join us next year.

The event was a bit earlier this year due to a very packed calendar for the remainder of April and into May. It seems to catch people a bit by surprise by how much is constantly going on in our parish. Since I am often the one who books these events, I can assure you there are very few days when all is quiet. When you read the rest of the bulletin this week be sure to check out the calendar and other articles to get a feel for the many activities. This is definitely a very active and lively parish community!

It is not by accident that the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner occurs in the spring of the year. As we come out of the preparation days of Lent and welcome the Easter Season, it is a time of rejoicing and celebration. Just as the earth is springing forth with new life, we are called to celebrate the new everlasting life that God has offered us. Let us rejoice!

In this weekend’s readings we are shown again and again how much God loves us and is calling us into his fold. In the first reading Peter tells us that though the people rejected Jesus and put him to death, God raised him up and made him the one true Savior for us all. “He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.” In our work and efforts to build a better world, are we building on the firm foundation which is Jesus Christ? Are we accepting his love and following in his way so that we can rejoice in the salvation which only he can provide?

The second reading once more reveals to us how much God loves us. God has given us His Son and made us His children, and by His love, brought us into His fold. In our graced freedom, it is our responsibility to accept this love, nurture it and let it grow so it can be shared. A love that is given but not cared for cannot truly develop into its full potential. This is why it is so important for us to make the daily effort to follow in God’s way and care for this gift He has offered us.

Finally in the Gospel, Jesus uses the example of the good shepherd caring for his sheep. A shepherd will protect and care for his sheep at all costs. He will protect them from the wolf, keep them together and safe, and even lay down his life for them. This is how the Father has loved us through Jesus, a love that is faithful unto death.

A loving relationship is a two-way street. One cannot just accept love but must return it and spread it as well. As much as the Lord our God loves us, how do we return that love? Do we invest in this relationship? Do we give as well as receive? By striving to develop and nurture our personal relationship with God, we can experience a more fulfilling and rewarding life.

During Lent I wrote a reflection on different ways to strengthen our relationship with the Lord. Some of the options included retreats, additional time in prayer, different speaker events, etc. Hopefully we made good use of these opportunities during that time of preparation to grow closer to God. Now that Lent is over, we need to continue building upon this relationship; we can’t stop and just pick it up again during Advent. This relationship should be nurtured everyday! Let us keep our relationship with God a personal relationship.

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