Let’s Keep the Crust!


Let’s Keep the Crust!

Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” 1 Corinthians 10:17

Have you ever watched a creative parent preparing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for their kid for school lunch? They take a couple of slices of a fresh bread, generously spread the peanut butter on both of them… Then they add the sweetness of a favorite jam, strawberry or raspberry flavour, put the slices together and then… Cut the crust off! In order to make a soft, perfectly square-shaped sandwich. Why? I absolutely love the crust! It brings more flavour and adds that lovely crunch!

This weekend we celebrate the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. We recognize God’s presence among us in the Eucharist, but also in the community of faithful, the Body of Christ where everyone belongs. Unfortunately, sometimes we have a tendency, just like with a perfectly shaped PB & J sandwich, to cut off the crust: namely, people on the margins. We are all the Body of Christ, not only those “holy and perfect” with the softness on the inside, but also those rough edges of the crust, such as people who are poor and homeless, unchurched and those struggling with their faith, LGBTQ, different cultures and races… Everyone belongs!

There is an unwritten “rule” for new pastors: you don’t make any major changes during the first year of ministry in a new parish. You just listen, learn and assess the needs and reality of the parish’s life. In our case, as Oblates, there were some things that could not wait a year. In the first week of our arrival at St. Patrick in Hamilton, Ontario, it was brought to our attention that the fence around the property was unstable, rusty and in need of repairs. As we discerned what to do, it became clear to us that the fence simply needed to go down. It was sending the message, “Stay away!” rather than “All are welcome!”. Hospitality is an important part of our Oblate spirituality. “Our communities seek to radiate the warmth of the Gospel to those around us. Our houses, therefore, (…) are characterized by a special sense of hospitality.” (OMI Const. 41) And so should our parishes! In practicality this is expressed in our preference toward mercy and compassion over rubrics and laws.

Tearing down the fence surrounding the property literally opened the space to all, and it was also a symbolic gesture of invitation and welcome. Sometimes it begins with a simple gesture of opening the door to the church with a friendly greeting. But most of the time it goes much deeper by helping those who enter an Oblate parish to find their spiritual home: a place of belonging and healing, a safe space to “come as you are” and be encouraged and empowered to put faith into action. It comes from the principle of building bridges rather than walls.

We hear this also these days as the whole Church goes through the experience of synodality, walking together and listening with open minds, hearts and will. “The vision of a Church capable of radical inclusion, shared belonging, and deep hospitality according to the teachings of Jesus is at the heart of the synodal process: “Instead of behaving like gatekeepers trying to exclude others from the table, we need to do more to make sure that people know that everyone can find a place and a home here”. (Remark by a parish group from the USA.)

So, as we celebrate the Body of Christ today, let’s live as the Body of Christ where everyone belongs. “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor 10:17) Let’s keep the crust! Over all, it tastes much better.

By Jarek Pachocki, OMI
OMI Lacombe Canada – Vocation Director
Linktree – Oblate Vocations