In these days the liturgy reminds us constantly that "God comes" to visit his people, to dwell in the midst of men and to form with them a communion of love and life, that is, a family. John's Gospel expresses thus the mystery of the Incarnation: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us"; literally, "he made his dwelling among us" (John 1:14). Does not the building of a church amid the hourses of a village or neighborhood of a city evoke perhaps this great gift and mystery?The Holy Father is, of course, correct in this observation. But I wonder if the reverse is not also true? When we close churches - and worse, parishes - does it not seem that God is leaving his people, that is abandoning them?
In the past decade in my diocese we have been closing parish after parish; rather, we have been "merging" them together, which is, I think, more painful and less wise than a closing of one parish or another. As one who has experienced these "mergings" not once but twice, I can testify that the process is deeply painful and it does feel as though God is abandoning his people, or at least the Church.
"Does not the building of a church amid the houses of a village or neighborhood of a city evoke perhaps this great gift and mystery?" Absolutely!