This is the crux of the job….that if I do my job CORRECTLY I lose my parish…
See, my primary duty is not to sling people and their souls about as if to pound The Word into them….no…mine is to be somewhat of a softer approach..a ‘Feather Hammer’ one…I GENTLY give them the Word, and leave it up to THEM to incorporate it into their lives..I do not say “You HAVE to do this” or “You MUST do that”…no..my Master clearly said “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” -Mark 4:23..after all, it is THEIR soul, not mine, that is in their keeping, I merely point the way.
Now, I am no John The Baptist shouting “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” (John 1:23)…no…I am more of a guidepost or sign saying “This way back to faith”.
There is a certain fear that creeps into my heart every now and then…one that I sometimes cannot dispel. See, if I do my job right then those who have fallen away from their faith FIND their faith again. This means they go back to church, attend mass, or go to ‘meetings’…and I lose them to those same places.
The reason I DO have as many in my parish as I have is due to those same churches ‘throwing away’ or ‘driving off’ people because they do not fit into their category…so, many find a NEW way to faith….example: A once Catholic who got discarded many years ago finds out that their faith has increased since listening to my humble mumbles and decides they wish to go back to church..maybe not a CATHOLIC one, but a church nonetheless. (yes, it STILL COUNTS AS A HOUSE OF GOD, even if it is not THE Church)
This means they sort of cease to remember that I was there and encouraged them to get back into the life they left behind so many years ago. They have come to understand that the church is not what the PEOPLE say about them but what GOD says about them. And many are okay with that…and I am okay with THAT as well…
There are some who just sort of …well…wander off. When they first hear me saying “God loves you…God wants you to remember that at all times” they figure “well, I’m set”….they read their Bible, pray, and do GREAT acts of charity for others.
In other words, they get their life in order through the counsel I give and the inspirational speeches and posts I make, and then go off on their own happy as a clam….and I am okay with THAT as well…
Then there are the ‘others’ as I like to call them…those who see me as a novelty..you know…”Hey, let’s get him to pray for a dead rabbit that doesn’t exist” …etc…then go trash me in some private chat room or on their wall on a social media website. They linger, sharing my posts, and sometimes even try to turn me onto their social awareness campaigns they have (you know: Stop Fracking, Save the Whales…etc) and get outraged with me when I do not publicly decry these things for them…THOSE are the ones I am NOT okay with.
I chose this path to help people, not to be a social bulletin board.
I am not an activist, nor a social shark who charges against the latest outrage against things like ‘bees in decline’…do I care? YOU BET YOUR SWEET BIPPY I CARE! But I am a CLERIC, not a POLITICIAN..my word carries little or NO weight against politics.
I care enough NOT to stray from what my primary resolve..and that is to keep people on a path. It may not be the popular consensus of the masses that what I do makes sense, but I understand exactly what I DO do…and WHY I was CALLED to do it.
I am NOT the Good Shepherd, merely His servant…(Mendicant: NO MONEY PAID TO ME FOR ANYTHING I DO) …I do this for love of my Master…
I am not like ‘The hired hand’ He spoke of in John 10:12-13…”The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep.
So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.
The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.”
By doing my job I guide those ‘sheep’ back to their pens..and in the process, slice my own throat (ecclesiastically speaking) in that they go, and do not come back nor remember I was there.
This is why I keep going…because no matter how many I guide BACK to their pen, there are ALWAYS ones who have been lost from OTHER pens who are looking…or their shepherd drove them off…or they found fault with their pen…(you get the picture)…
So, therein lay the rub…while some see over 1900 members in my parish, I see only about 3 or 4 hundred…because many there wandered off back to their pen and found their place again.
So where am I going with this diatribe? Well, this is to let you all know that no matter how long it will be, no matter what the circumstances surrounding the leaving of your NEW pen, I am always there to take care of those who stray away or come back..
I do not ‘write them off as a loss’…no…I wish them joy, peace, and happiness that they found their faith again. They do not ‘abandon’ me…they merely left for greener pastures of their soul and where it led them.
Am I upset? Nope.
I prefer to think of it as me doing my job…guiding those who strayed from their faith BACK to their faith WHATEVER their faith may have been or is now…
To some this makes me a heretic (as I do not belong to an ‘Organised’ religious establishment), a sinner (for some reason they think I have some subversive sideline I am doing), an apostate (because they think I am posing as something I am not in their eyes), or even worse…nope..sorry to say it boys and girls, I AM an Ordained Minister…yup…but when they ask you “Oh, and what KIND of minister IS he?” tell them what I tell them: A CHRISTIAN minister…one who follows the commands of CHRIST, and not CHURCH laws…I am a SERVANT, and nothing more…