Saturday, July 11, 2009

FIFTEENTH Sunday: "What you have received, give as a gift."

Amos 7, 12-15; Psalm 84; Ephesians 1, 3-14; St. Mark 6, 7-13

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"What you have received, give as a gift." The Church is the Body of Christ not just in receiving his divine life and love, but in giving it as well. Christ sent the Twelve out "two by two" and he also sends us forth. The Church is perpetually on mission to evangelize all nations.

The sacramental liturgy takes its name of the "Mass" from this reality. The word derives from the Latin "missa" when, at the conclusion of the liturgy, the priest says "Ite, missa est", meaning "Go, it is sent forth." The people have heard the Word, prayed and received the Eucharist and are now prepared to take these gifts out to the world. Our everyday lives should include a continual reaching out, a going forth to proclaim the truth to the world, to call all mankind to Christ. The physical healings recorded in the Gospel are of God's power made manifest through the Apostles sent out to teach and baptize all nations.

Christ invites his disciples to follow him by taking up their cross in their turn. (Cf. Matthew 10:38) By following him they acquire a new outlook on illness and the sick. Jesus associates them with his own life of poverty and service. He makes them share in his ministry of compassion and healing: "So they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them." (CCC 1506)

Healings of the body are signs only of the necessity of faith and the healing of the ravages of sin through the mercy of God. It is not physical blindness that shuts us out of heaven, but spiritual blindness to the evil of sin. For a world that is obsessed with physical appearances and habitually neglects the matters of the spirit, it is hard to hear the truth that God is concerned most with the appearance of the soul. The human soul in a state of grace is the most beautiful of all creatures and radiates with the beauty of divine love. Authentic compassion always requires that we care for and tend the ill and the disabled, but even more that we attend to their salvation. Knowing of heaven and the way to get there is the only sure source of comfort to those weighed down by the sorrows and burdens of this world.

We meet Christ in the liturgy so that we may be sent out healed of the effects of sin, strengthened and made new by God's Word and the Body of Christ. In this way we are equipped to preach and teach the truth by which Christ is made known to the world. We love best when we speak and act with the charity of Christ himself, desiring the salvation of the world.

The initiative of lay Christians is necessary especially when the matter involves discovering or inventing the means for permeating social, political, and economic realities with the demands of Christian doctrine and life. This initiative is a normal element of the life of the Church:

Lay believers are in the front line of Church life; for them the Church is the animating principle of human society. Therefore, they in particular ought to have an ever-clearer consciousness not only of belonging to the Church, but of being the Church, that is to say, the community of the faithful on earth under the leadership of the Pope, the common Head, and of the bishops in communion with him. They are the Church. (Pius XII, Discourse, February 20, 1946: AAS 38 (1946) 149; quoted by John Paul II, Christifideles Laici 9.) (CCC 899)

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

(For further reading on today's Gospel see also CCC 765, 1511 and 1673.)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy (Publish with permission.)

Photo: The Catholic Church Extension Society "strengthens the Church's presence and mission in under-resourced and isolated communities across the United States" doing the work of Christ today who sends disciples to build up the Church here at home and all over the world. For more information about this missionary apostolate visit The Catholic Church Extension Society website.

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