During the current pandemic, the Church has been closed more several months with only the clergy able to celebrate Mass and the sacraments. It has been a time of reflection for many. Churches are now ‘open’ but only a small number can attend Mass, and there are strict rules in place to prevent further spread of the virus.

As I looked round at the faces, obscured with masks, I realised first, even though there were only 30 people present, I didn’t know all their names and secondly, nobody present could call themselves poor or homeless.

Before lockdown, the congregation was and let’s be honest, has been for many years predominantly middle class, young people were hardly noticeable and there were two collections at most Masses. A certain dress code was expected, though this is a little more relaxed in the 21st century.

Where are the young? Where are the poor whom Jesus served. Where are the homeless? Why don’t these people come to Mass?

Are they welcome?

When the bearded, world worn man enters the church with his scruffy dog on a lead made from string, is he welcomed or shunned.

Is he welcome?

Are people put off having a collection basket thrust under their noses?

We constantly hear the phrase ‘new normal’ in the media, in coffee shops and elsewhere. In this ‘new normal’ are we going to go out and seek the poor, the homeless and welcome them to Mass if they do turn up?