January 14, 2022

Reflection | John Shaughnessy

A life-changing offer, including the best benefit package in the world

John ShaughnessySpaced a few feet from each other, the four signs outside the restaurant reflect the economic reality of our times—the desperation, the pleading, the way the world has changed.

One sign notes, “Now hiring! Servers.”

The next one reads, “Now hiring! Hosts.”

A third states, “Now hiring! Line Cooks.”

And the last one practically begs, “Now hiring! Everything!”

They’re all signs of how the pandemic continues to impact so many parts of our lives, including leaving many employers and business owners wondering where all the workers have gone.

As another new year begins, faith leaders of all Christian denominations must have the same reaction—again—after welcoming and witnessing another blessed Christmas of their churches overflowing with people drawn together by the birth of Christ:

Where have all these people suddenly gone in the new year?

In the midst of that questioning, I imagined another set of signs that could be placed outside churches—signs that would reflect hope instead of desperation, future promise instead of current reality, and an invitation focused on how the world can be changed instead of how the world has changed.

Needed! People who welcome strangers, who seek to find common ground with others whose viewpoints differ from theirs, and who are willing to build bridges with people of different races, cultures and economic backgrounds.

Needed! People willing to listen, take time and forgive, including seeking forgiveness for themselves.

Needed! People who have the courage to live their faith—and the compassion to use their faith to uplift the lives of other people.

Needed! Everyone!

A life-changing offer: We want you with us. We know we are better when we are together. Most importantly, God wants you. And we know you will be better with him in your life.

Admittedly, the Church is not perfect. Neither are people. But God’s love is. On Christmas, you welcomed the Christ Child into your heart. He longs for you to stay near him now. He longs to walk through this life with you.

Benefit package: We say this humbly, but it is the best benefit package that you will ever be offered in this life. And we’re certainly not talking about free coffee and donuts on an occasional Sunday morning, although admittedly it’s a nice way to begin a Sunday and meet some good people.

The one who founded our Church offers life-giving sustenance in the Eucharist. He’s big—downright huge— on mercy and forgiveness, so whatever mistakes you make, you don’t have to worry about getting a second chance. In fact, the benefit package includes unlimited forgiveness and second chances.

And he never views you as an employee. He sees you as a friend. You know how some people say they would die to give life to someone they love? He’s proven to be that person for everyone, whether you love him or not.

Still, here’s the best part of this best-ever benefit package: Once you join him, he’ll never let you go. And even if you leave for something that sounds better or more exciting to you, he’ll wait for you and welcome you back when that time comes. He wants you to be with him forever.

Accepting all applicants! No experience necessary. Just a willingness to learn, grow and love. Inquire within and ask for Jesus. He wants to talk to you and listen to you about your present and your future.

(John Shaughnessy is the assistant editor of The Criterion.)

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