13th Sunday in O.T. (A); July 2, 2017
2 Kgs 4:8-14 Ps 89 Rom 6:3-11 Mt 10:37-42
Deacon Jim McFadden; SJB
I’d like to begin this homily with a quiz: by a show of hands, how many in this assembly are baptized? O.K., nearly everyone. For those of you who raised your hands, how many consider yourself to be a disciple Jesus? Great, there should be a one-to-one correspondence because baptism and discipleship are inextricably entwined; one necessarily leads to the other.
How so? Baptism initiates us into the Body of Christ, which is the Church. As St Joan of Arc said at her trial, “One thing I know to be true is that the Risen Christ and the Church are one and the same.” St. Aquinas said that whoever receives baptism is incorporated in Christ, almost as one of his own limbs, and becomes aggregated to the community of the faithful (cf. Summa Theologiae, III, Q. 69, art. 5). The Good Doctor has succinctly stated who the Church is: namely, we are, the People of God.
That’s why we are in solidarity and fellowship with another. Through our baptism, we have entered into the community of the People of God who are on a journey, a people on pilgrimage through history.
As such, we are called to follow Jesus—to be his disciples: his followers, his students. We go where our Master leads us. At the start of our journey, we know that the life of discipleship promises us fulfillment—we will realize our destiny. We will receive an abundance of wisdom and grace, especially at Confirmation where we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We will be honored by our Lord Jesus who has prepared a place for us in Heaven. And, we have tremendous status because in Christ we are the adopted sons and daughters of our heavenly Father, whom Jesus encourages us to call Abba, Daddy.
These inspiring dreams for the journey do not mask the demands of discipleship which demands rigorous self-denial: “…whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:38). And, as we learned last week, following Jesus means that we will be greeted with hostility and rejection and the only recourse we have is surrendering ourselves to the Father’s will as our only hope and comfort.
As we follow Jesus, what does he send us to do? What is our mission? Put simply, we have the same Mission as Jesus, who was anointed for a purpose: to bring salvation to the world, so beautifully and concisely conveyed in John 3:16: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
Do we appreciate the implication of this? Since the Church is the Body of Christ, we have the SAME redemptive mission as Christ. It’s not that the Church has a Mission, but THE MISSION HAS A CHURCH! Jesus never intended to do his mission alone, but from the very beginning of his public ministry he gathered apostles to share his calling.
Brothers and sisters, by virtue of our baptism, we are called to be missionary disciples; we are called to bring the Gospel to the world (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, n. 120). That’s why Jesus constituted his Church as his Mystical Body. Since he is no longer with us physically, He’s counting us to continue his Mission through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. People of God, there are no exceptions to this calling; no one gets a pass on this Mission. As Pope Francis so eloquently put it in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, “All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization….The new evangelization calls for personal involvement” (ibid.) from everyone, the whole of the People of God. Everyone who is gathered in this assembly as we celebrate the Holy Mass is being called and sent to be personally involved in the Mission of Christ.
People of God at SJB, Jesus has called you into His Church at baptism; now, He’s sending you to carry out his plan of salvation. That means you are a missionary disciple whose purpose is to proclaim the Good News and to baptize all nations. That’s what it means to be Catholic. Are you ready for this challenging call.? An indication that you are is that you experience yourself as having a chosen relationship with Jesus…of knowing that you are a beloved son or daughter of God. That realization plants a burning desire to give back to others what you have received in such abundance. If you are starting from the experience that you are deeply and unconditionally loved by God, that you are very significant and special to Him, then you will embrace being a missionary disciple, which is the only appropriate response to Jesus’ call.
Are you ready for this challenging call? I hope so because our Lord Jesus is depending on you to carry out His Mission. Amen.