I have a personal mission/motto by which I try to live my ministry. I’ve sort of extended this to the mission of our Pastorate so that we have some sort of focus in our work among the community of the North Point Peninsula of Edgemere and Dundalk. It’s “Live the Gospel; Make Disciples.” I feel like this encapsulates our task as a Church and as true disciples of Jesus, so I think it’s worth repeating and keeping it in front of ourselves. Just look at the cover of your bulletin.
Today’s celebration of Corpus Christi, in which we honor and give thanks for the great Gift of the Body and Blood of Jesus, sheds light for me upon this simple, two-fold mission that I believe is the mission of the Church and any Parish that calls itself Christian. Vatican II teaches that the celebration of the Eucharist “is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time, it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord's supper” (SC, 10). Therefore, the Body and Blood of Jesus – the Eucharist – is the center of our lives as Catholic Christians.
It is in and through the Eucharist that the mission of Living the Gospel and Making Disciples is made available, made possible, and made fruitful. So, we would do well to be more and more focused on this tremendous Gift. In the Body and Blood of Christ, we find our center to provide that focus and the reminder of what it means to live the Gospel; at the same time, through the Body and Blood of Christ, we find the nourishment to go forth and make new disciples, as He told us to do. When we take the time to contemplate this great Gift of the Eucharist, we are centered, reminded, and sent – and this is the foundation for our mission to Live the Gospel and Make Disciples.
First, in contemplating the Eucharist – either through participation at Mass or in Adoration – we are centered in the peace that only God can give. In the Bread and Wine that are the Body and Blood of Christ, we remember the moment when Jesus gave this offering to us “in memory of Me”– and when He then offered Himself in the sacrifice of the Cross. The Eucharist is a memorial – a recalling of the life and death of Christ – to live which is to authentically live the Gospel.
Also, the Eucharist that we celebrate and honor is a sacred meal that nourishes us for a purpose. Jesus knows that, given to our own resources, we don’t have enough to accomplish the important task that He lays before us. If we are to make disciples, we need to have the grace and Gift of Christ to offer people who choose to follow Him– not us. This, in fact, reminds us that we are not entering into some merely human effort. Instead, we are sharing in the very mission of Christ, Whose Body and Blood we share.
The Holy Eucharist shapes us, and, as St. John Paul II taught,
“entails that all who take part in the Eucharist be committed to changing their lives and making them in a certain way completely ‘Eucharistic’. It is this fruit of a transfigured existence and a commitment to transforming the world in accordance with the Gospel which splendidly illustrates the [balance between faith and hope] inherent in the celebration of the Eucharist and in the Christian life as a whole: ‘Come, Lord Jesus!’ (Rev 22:20)” (Ecclessia de Eucharistia, 20).
The First Reading today relates the People of Israel’s response to the Covenant that God has given them. “We will do all that the Lord has told us,” they say. We know, however, that the history of Israel was one of faithfulness and falling away – much like our own lives. That is why God continually sent prophets to renew His teaching with them and to remind the People of the nearness of God and their special role in the world. This finds its fulfilment in the final coming of Christ, who perfected the old sacrifices of that Covenant in His own sacrifice on the Cross. And, Jesus remains intimately near to us through this Sacrament of His Body and Blood.
That Body and Blood teach us what it means to live the Gospel, since in the Eucharist we see the selfless gift of Christ for us – “the Blood of the covenant shed for many.” In the same way, we are called to offer ourselves with the love of Jesus. By thus living the Gospel, we are led into the apostolic aspect of our Faith: the task of making disciples. It is the Eucharist that gives us the strength and grace to invite others to the table – an invitation to know Jesus who is truly present here in the Sacrament.
So, each time we come together to celebrate this Eucharist, we should remember our mission – given my Jesus Himself – to live the Gospel and make Disciples.