By Fr. Justin Clemente. Posted Nov. 30, 2021.
It popped into my email inbox on September 29 at 2:02 pm. Fr. Darryl Fitzwater sent me a link to a video with the words: “Check out this link about walking the Parish. You’ll love this.“
At first I thought, Is this spam? But no, it was genuine. And believe it or not, I was praying through doing this very thing. I replied to his email:
“Wow. This deeply ministered to me.
And it is so ridiculously timely. Call me overly literal, but I’ve been struggling and praying through this idea I had to start walking the whole of Hagerstown. I went back and forth on whether or not it was a good idea. I think I got my answer!“
Many of you know that I spent much time this year sending out targeted, professional, hand-signed letters to folks moving into the Hagerstown community. The result was disappointing. In fact, the only reply I got was to tell me to STOP sending mail. Ugh. BUT, I completed the outreach I believe the Lord personally gave me this year – 500 of these letters were prayerfully sent out, anointed with holy oil and all! I trust God to give the growth in the work that was done.
But now, and in the year ahead, I sense the Lord calling me (and us) to do something more personal – I believe he is calling us to walk the parish we serve.
The video below asks the odd question: what is the speed of God? The answer: about 3 miles per hour. This a reference to that the fact that Jesus walked just about everywhere he went. I’ve often marveled at the fact that Jesus is the one person who accomplished everything the Father gave him to do – and yet he walked. Can you imagine Jesus rushing or running? The only circumstance that comes to mind is when, in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the father runs to meet his prodigal. Then and there, the Savior runs to forgive us.
I believe the Lord is calling us to walk together at the pace of being known. So very few people are willing to take the time to know others by name. To knock on someone’s door and offer a warm greeting and a prayer. And think of it: oftentimes those who do take the time are heretical cults! Yikes.
So, here’s what I’m asking: will you watch this video and consider walking with me? As weather permits, I’ll be walking through a part of the parish every week or so. As you can tell by my picture, I haven’t gotten far yet. If you can’t walk, then pray. Pray for God’s Holy Spirit to go ahead of us and create an insatiable need for the Savior! It’s my prayer that we come back with stories of how Jesus met people right on their doorstep.
In fact, it’s already happening. One woman I recently spoke with told me about her daughter, who is in dying in the clutches of an addiction to heroin. She was so very thankful that someone wanted to pray with her, and I was likewise able to involve her in the prayer. I asked her to follow up with me on how God answered our prayer. When we walk at God’s speed, it isn’t hard to find opportunities to minister the powerful grace and presence of our Savior in everyday life.