Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Our Global Family

On Memorial Day, the United States honors our nation’s men and women who died in wars. Washington, D.C., will be at the center of many tributes. At the Vietnam memorial are 58,000 plus names, and occasionally I would read a letter at the foot of the wall that a soldier had written home. And I would think: how many hopes lie buried here.

Then I thought about the Easter season. Our faith assures us that Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection reconnected us to God, that God's life bestowed upon us in baptism and nourished in the sacraments will not disappear.

Rembrandt's Ascension of Christ
We have been celebrating different aspects of the one paschal or “passover” mystery: the death and resurrection of Jesus, his ascension to his Father in glory, and the descent of the Spirit of God upon the disciples. This passage of Jesus from an earthy life into a new, transfigured heavenly reality anticipates our own transformation.

The Book of the Acts indicates that the Lukan Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles are a two-volume work. The Gospel is about Jesus; the Acts is about early Christianity. The ascension connects these. It signals the close of Jesus’ earthly ministry and heralds the Church’s ministry by the power of the Spirit.

Jesus is indeed the head of the body, the Church, the people of God and we with our multi talents are called to build up this Mystical Body of Christ.

In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus tells the disciples to be missionary. The disciples, you and I, are the hands and feet and eyes and ears and voice of the Living Christ until He comes again in glory to transform this universe into a “new heaven and a new earth.”

A week ago, thirty-five of us St. Raphael parishioners made a stirring pilgrimage to central Italy. In Rome, we participated in a papal audience in St. Peter's Square with people from all over the world. Luckily, we stood about ten feet from Pope Francis. Afterwards, I reflected on this global Catholic Community.

First, we are a community of disciples that remembers and celebrates the awesome presence of Jesus Christ—our way, our truth, and our life who overcomes death. The living Christ through the power of the Spirit lives within this community, within you and me, and the power and energy and force and vitality of the Spirit can fire us up to do wonders for God.

The second thing I like is that we are a family: sons and daughters of God our Father, a global family that stretches back to early Christianity: a family that will continue.

Third, we take a stand on peace and justice. I think of the statements of Pope Francis. I think of shelters, hospices, soup kitchens, literacy programs, immigration services, day-care centers, hospitals and schools all over the world that our Catholic Community sponsors.

May the living Christ inspire us to become co-workers with God in doing all the good we can.

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