Mass bespoke unity in faith - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Mass bespoke unity in faith

At our Oct. 18 World Mission Day liturgy celebrating our ties with the Church in Africa, we reflected on the Gospel mandate to go and baptize all nations. At one point in my homily, I asked the people present to think about where they were baptized, who baptized them, who were their godparents and who was present for the celebration. Then I asked them to imagine their “baptismal” family tree ‚Äì back to those who first heard and acted on the Lord’s great mandate to share the good news.

It was fun to do that since an informal polling indicated that there were people present among the large assembly who had been baptized in Canada, Malta, Italy, Mexico, Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and France. My guess is that there were others baptized in other nations at Sacred Heart that day, who, because of shyness, did not identify themselves.

In any case it was a grace for me and for all present to be a part of a joyful, worshipping assembly that symbolized in a beautiful way the breadth, scope and diversity of the communion of faith to which we belong.

The baptismal theme and the wide makeup of the assembly reminded all of us how deep are the bonds that unite us across national borders and across oceans. Those elements refreshed our awareness that today’s technology, modern means of communication and travel make the members of the human family ever more interdependent.

Our thoughts and prayers about baptism today also linked us with our mothers and fathers in faith who year after year, century after century, have presented their children for baptism, who have taught them of God’s love for them in Jesus Christ and nurtured their life of faith.

Now we hold in our hearts that treasure of faith proclaimed by the first disciples of the Lord. They lived the great mandate to preach the good news, to baptize and live the faith. What do we do with the treasure that is ours? Do we hide it? Bury it? Privatize it? Or do we share it as generously as we can in all of the ways possible to us?

It seems to me, and I hope to you, that the life-giving option is the last one I mentioned — that is, to share, sometimes in words but always in the way we live the Christ-life that is ours. Our witness in that sense is our invitation to others to “come and see.” For the unchurched, the way we live can be an invitation to find life in the richness of our faith tradition. For our sisters and brothers in other faith traditions, it can be an encouragement to live their beliefs more faithfully. For the sisters and brothers of our own faith community who no longer visibly participate in our life, our witness can be a reminder that a fresh start is possible and may indeed be a source of great joy for them.

In the end, by virtue of the gift of our own baptisms, we are all missionaries. We carry on that mission according to our respective vocations, in the particular circumstances of our lives with their complex sets of responsibilities and opportunities.

The African Mass was a wonderful occasion to think about all of these themes. Present were lay faithful of many ages, colors, cultures and places of origin; there were priests, men and women religious, permanent deacons, married, widowed and single people. It was an exciting, diverse, faithful assembly. What bound us together in spirit was the realization that we have been deeply blessed in our baptism and, I hope, in the desire to express our praise and gratitude to God by sharing it with others.

How does the Lord call you to share the good news?

Peace to all.

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