Very bread, good shepherd, tend us, Jesu, of your love befriend us,
You refresh us, you defend us, Your eternal goodness send us In the land of life to see.(St. Thomas Aquinas)
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
This is a time for rejoicing. Each moment we are given a precious opportunity to remember with wonder that the Lord’s call is grace, complete gift, and at the same time a commitment to bring the Gospel to others. Our relationship with God as the defining moment of our faith. We are called to a faith that bears witness, one that closely connects the life of grace, as experienced in the Sacraments and ecclesial communion transcending our entire being. Our Holy Father exhorts us, “Led by the Spirit, Christians are challenged to respond to existential peripheries and human drama, ever conscious that the mission is God’s work; it is not carried out by us alone, but always in ecclesial communion, together with our brothers and sisters, and under the guidance of the Church’s pastors. For this has always been God’s dream: that we should live with Him in a communion of love.”
God’s call does not allow us to remain silent! Pope Francis tells us, “You need to see the entirety of your life as a mission to bear joyful witness wherever we find ourselves, through our actions and words, to the experience of being with Jesus and members of His community.” Through our prayerful living, we come to understand the heart of Jesus who came to serve, not to be served.
How many of you wish to follow Jesus? For those of you whom I have met, from the youngest to the oldest, I believe your response would be a resounding, “I do!”. When we are born, Jesus already knows each one of us, loves us and calls us to follow Him. This call is a love-filled invitation from Jesus to you! He invites each one of us to give our lives completely, without measurement or personal interest, without thinking, “what’s in it for me?” Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we make a Covenant with Jesus to love Him above all things and to serve Him in our brothers and sisters.
Let us think about the matchless love of God that He gave us His Son who is with us always in the Eucharist, the Bread come down from heaven, the Bread of Life. Who is the Eucharist? The Eucharist is Jesus! Jesus speaks to the apostles, His disciples, and us with great love and knows that we need to be nourished to follow Him. He knows the difficulties we will face. With the Eucharist, He gives Himself to us so that we are able to receive Him and continue living His mission each day.
In Evangelii Gaudium, we are reminded the missionary activity does not arise simply from our own abilities, plans and projects, nor from our sheer willpower or our efforts to practice the virtues; it is the result of a profound experience in the company of Jesus. Only then can we testify to a Person, a Life, and thus become apostles. When we receive Jesus, our hearts are burning and we live the “mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising, healing, and freeing”.
At the end of May, I celebrated baccalaureate Masses with the seniors of our Catholic high schools. They are Eucharistic missionaries where God is their positioning system. Their service extends beyond the walls of their homes or schools and spills over into the community in which they live. They do not reserve God’s love but freely and courageously offer His love to all they meet.
We bless our earthly fathers on Father’s Day, June 18. Fathers have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God. Our earthly fathers have sacrificed themselves, so that their children might have faith and live wholly as children of God the Father. I recall three priests who recently retired; but have spent their lives for the sake of God’s mission; Father Alvaro Jimenez; Father Charlie Mitchell, and Father Peter Puntal. Each one of them, in their unique fashion, live as a leaven of the Gospel. None are perfect, but in unity we bring about God’s perfection. Let us offer thanksgiving to God the Father for our earthly fathers who also help us to know His love for us.
Within the Church, all of us are servants to give ourselves in love as a leaven of the Gospel – to foster the communion of the holy people of God. May we be a Eucharist, that the eternal goodness of life is made known by our daily living.