Dear friends in Christ, I hope your summer has been going well. That you are finding time to relax and be with family.
Since we have returned to Ordinary Time in our Liturgical Calendar, I have been thinking a lot about the Church. The Gospels have returned to sharing the story of Jesus' three years of public ministry, which was about “Proclaiming God's Kingdom to be at hand,” (Mt. 4:17) and drawing us to the Father, so that we can be one with Him as the Father and the Son are one. It was during these three years that Jesus laid the foundation for the Church. He called the Apostles to continue to lead the Church, following His example as the “Way, the Truth and the Life,” (Jn. 14:6), with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The third person in the Holy Trinity, helps maintain the Truth, and bestows the necessary gifts and graces through the Sacraments to help us on our way. Now, 2000 years later, we are still striving to build the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, and remain faithful. However, this is not always easy.
I think part of the difficulty with remaining faithful to the Gospel, comes from that we have forgotten what it means to be “Church.” We have forgotten that we are more than just our parish, or even more than just our families. In truth, we are deeply connected to the people in our neighborhoods, in the neighboring parish, those throughout our entire diocese, across the USA, and even in every country. We, who proclaim the One Faith in Jesus Christ, all are the Church, and are called to share this Good News with all our neighbors who may not know Jesus.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that, “The Church, in Christ, is like a sacrament, a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men” (775). Jesus is the Head, and we, the Church, is His Mystical Body. Because of this union between us and Jesus, “the Church is both human and divine” (CCC 779). It is in this special relationship that we can discover our connection with God as well as with each other.
In using the terms of marriage, Jesus, as the bridegroom, gives himself up for the Church, the bride, so that He might sanctify her,” (CCC 796). We are not perfect, but Jesus makes us holy. When it comes to how members of the Church are to respond to the needs of other members, Saint Paul said, “when one member suffers, we all suffer; and if one member is honored, all members rejoice,” (1 Cor 12:26). In considering our sufferings, we are called to unite them with the Head of the Church, Jesus and His Passion, so that some day we may be “glorified with Him” (CCC 793). Therefore, having this special relationship with Christ, as both Body and Bride, it is important that we continually strive for holiness, taking care to help each other, as well as those who do not yet believe, to come to know Jesus and remain in His constant care.
As we continue to enjoy the summer, I encourage you to take time to deepen your relationship with Christ and the entire Church. Look for ways that you can be present to your neighbor and in your parish. Remember to pray for each other, to forgive one another, to share each other's burdens and to celebrate each other's good fortunes.