So they went off and preached repentance.
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. This blessing is one of mission; that is, the Christian’s response to God’s blessing to spread the Good News, the very nature of the Church. We proclaim God’s salvation throughout His earth. We preach repentance and offer forgiveness, as the apostles also did—to assure healing and relationship with God. To do this, we are called to be counter-cultural. Pope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium, wrote, “the great danger in today’s world, pervaded by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor.” Going public with our faith requires fortitude and awe of the Lord.
The twelve apostles lived in a different time, but going public with their faith, moving against the tide, was just as difficult for them. We, like the twelve, are here to bring about God’s plan. We are here to be in relationship with God and to foster that relationship through, with and in Christ. The Eucharist is the food we are given, our spiritual nourishment, so that we are able to build up the foundation of this plan within each one. The Eucharist, the Living Word, offers us God’s indelible love, sacrificial and forgiving, gift of the Holy Spirit to become holy, to breed holiness.
We celebrated our country’s Independence Day on July 4. As a people of faith, our independence, our freedom, comes from the gift of the Eucharist. At the end of the Mass, we are encouraged, “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” It is more than an invitation to bring God into our family within our own homes. It is also a challenge to go out and transform the world to be a sacred space; to be imbued with holiness. No matter the obstacles we discover, we must remain faithful to the Truth that has set us free, offering the same salvation to each other. The Eucharist gives us the strength we need and fortifies our spirit for the persecution and indifference we encounter.
In the political wrangling at federal and state levels, the poor are often left out of the conversation. We only have to look at headline news to realize our lack. Bullying, human trafficking, immigration, border control, separation of families, murder of children; these are the stories which haunt us and compel us to reach for God and bring God within our midst. St. Margaret Mary’s parishioners rebuilt a church for a parish in Haiti; a student brings her faith to others as she suffers through illness; people write to their legislators about immigration reform; families teach their children the importance of service as they introduce their children to Catholic Charities of Central Florida; religious leaders and faith communities come together to pray for mercy and justice; a Funeral Prayer Service for the Pluth and Lindsey children at St. James Cathedral; offering running water to the mountain community of El Montazo, Dominican Republic . . . these are some of the ways in which the Eucharist, the Real Presence is made known.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call.