Monday, April 25, 2016

Go Into the World

Feast of Saint Mark, Evangelist

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”  Mark 16:15-18

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.  The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.  We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work. 

Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

This is what we are about.  We plant the seeds that one day will grow.  We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.

(Selections from “Prayer in Memory of Archbishop Romero: A Step along the Way” by the late Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw)

How did the Holy See and the Magisterium know what readings to select for today?  For this day is the first sunrise of the Fourth Day for the men who began to experience their Cursillo (coor-see-yo) at Missionhurst over the past weekend?  How did they know fifty years ago to send them out to proclaim the Good News on the Feast of St. Mark with their piety (those who believe), study (proclaim the Gospel), and actions (baptizing, driving out demons, healing the sick)? 

You could sense this mission building by the work of the hands that made this weekend possible.  This small Christian community of 21 men – supported by apostles far and wide doing prayer, sacrifice, service, cooking and more to meet their needs – celebrated Mass four times.  At each Mass, we had the work of our hands symbolized by the unleavened bread baked by Joe one of our team members.  The work of our hands was the whole weekend but it came to its height when Fr. Paul lifted up the unleavened bread to consecrate it into the Body of Christ.

You could also see this mission building by the work of our hands that allowed the team of friends to bind themselves together with the candidates whom we met on Thursday night.  After a second full day of laboring in the fields of the Lord, right before bed, a surprise party is celebrated for the candidates.  While in deep prayer over a soliloquy on John at Patmos, the community room was transformed into a celebration of the love of the Lord.  On the table along with other donated food and beverages, also was the work of another Joseph.  A winemaker, this candidate brought and shared his own personal “vintage” with all on Saturday night.

The transformation happened again as we raised a toast to friendship.  The community consecrated the agape of sharing. As the sign in the Missionhurst chapel proclaims, “We came as strangers.  We leave as family.”

The person of Jesus came alive in so many ways over the weekend.  At its height, the symbolism and actuality of the sharing of bread and wine by these two “Josephs” and all others came to fruition at our Masses and our closing ceremony with the community which could only be celebrated where else but at St. Joseph’s Church in Alexandria, VA. 

The start of a Fourth Day is a great time to reflect on the eternal question posed to us by the late Cursillo Spiritual Director Fr. Joe McCloskey, SJ.  Fr. Joe may be on the cloud of witnesses now, but his piety, study, and action resonate with us so many ways but this question is at the heart of his Ignatian-Cursillo-Benedictine-Augustinian-Thomastic-Franciscan-Dominican spirituality:  Am I really willing to be who Christ would have been if he had been lucky enough to be me?  They’ll know we are Christians by the love we share when we say “Yes.  Yes.  Yes. Yes. YES!” to this question.

No comments: