The Des Moines faith community recently celebrated the long and fruitful life of a dearly beloved priest, Father Jim Kiernan. Given he was retired, he was a frequent “sub” at various churches around town, and many had the opportunity to encounter him.
Since his death, I’ve been reflecting and revisiting various messages he’s delivered in homilies. One message I vividly remember comes from a homily given right around New Year’s Day two years ago. Fr. Kiernan posed a simple question: When was the last time you invited someone to attend church with you? Then he implored the congregation to add that task to our list of new year’s resolutions.
I’ve been thinking about Fr. Kiernan’s question in light of The Well. Given it’s part of my job to market this event to the masses, it feels like I’m constantly inviting people. However when I sit back and reflect, I realize marketing and inviting are not the same thing. Marketing is about making the event as successful as possible. Inviting, however, has little concern for the event itself. Rather, it’s focused on helping individual persons. Invitation asks the question: who do I know who could genuinely benefit from an encounter at The Well? In that sense, invitation is really a form of service. Consider these words from St. Catherine of Siena.
You know how Christ said to Saint Peter: Peter, do you love me? When Peter answered that Jesus knew very well that he loved him, and this three times, he said, If you love me, feed my little sheep. It is as if he were saying, Here is how I will know whether you love me: if, since you cannot be of any service to me, you come to the aid of your neighbors, nurturing them and giving them your best efforts in true holy teaching.
So we must come to our neighbors’ aid according to our ability, some of us by teaching, some by praying, some with our possessions. And those of us who cannot help with possessions must help through our friends. We must always have charity for our neighbors, then, and be of service to them in the way God has appointed for us. This is why I am turning to you for a merciful favor, proclaiming to you Christ’s word: Peter, do you love your Creator and me? Then serve me in your neighbors who are in need, to the extent that you can; but always put God’s honor first, never offending him. – From The Letters of St. Catherine of Siena
We opened an extra block of 100 tickets in May and have sold all but 30 of those. In the spirit of Fr. Kiernan and St. Catherine of Siena, I ask each of us to consider: Who is my neighbor in need, the little sheep who needs to be fed? Who am I being called to invite to The Well?
Please note: Ticket sales close at the end of the day on Friday, July 1.