Called to be Christ in our world

Jesus tells us in the Sermon of the Mount “Do not think I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish, but to fulfill” (Mt. 5:17). In a few weeks, during the Sacred Triduum, we will recognize that God Himself became the Lamb. He sheds His Blood to save us from certain death and to rescue us from slavery. He rescues us from the slavery of sin and death. As a result of these actions, this perfect sacrifice, we have the ability to live eternal life with God. Death was defeated on the cross and has no power over Christ, and we have the possibility to experience the fruits of that victory.

We just don’t commemorate this victory, we are also called to service. We are called to be Christ in our world today. To be His Hands, reaching out to those in need, regardless of who they are or what they believe. To be His Voice, calling others to a loving relationship with God; speaking God’s truth in opposition to injustice, regardless of whether that injustice is political, economic, religious, sexual, whatever. Pope Paul VI reminded us that to work for peace meant to work for justice.

We are called to be Christ’s Eyes, to see Him in the other: a loved one, stranger, the sick and the suffering, even the person who is perpetuating injustice. We are called to be His Heart, bringing His love and compassion into a world that at times seems devoid of it.

The big question: how? The answer: the Eucharist.

The Eucharist unites us to one another, the Body of Christ. The Mass we celebrate every day is the very same Mass that the Holy Father celebrates; the very same Mass that is being celebrated in Afghanistan, in Jerusalem, Japan, South Africa, Washington D.C., St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River and the saints in Heaven. 

I remember in the summertime as a kid, we were allowed to go outside after dinner to play with the other kids in the neighborhood. As I would run out the door, my dad would call out, “Take your brother” and then we were given the instruction “stay close.” That meant that we needed to be within earshot of our dad calling us home.

The Eucharist serves that purpose. It keeps us within earshot of God and our family of faith. 

I served as a hospital chaplain for about seven years. Often I would be paged by the family of a patient. The patient had taken a turn for the worse. Part of the family’s response was to call out to the Church. Why? That’s what families do, when in need we call out to our family members. The most important aspect of hospital ministry is the distribution of the Eucharist. It keeps us close to our Father and faith family, even in our times of illness.

There is also another very practical and important aspect of the Eucharist we should keep in mind. Let me introduce this with an example.

Back in 1995 I got my first apartment. It was kind of exciting, being out on my own in the “real world.” Getting the apartment was relatively easy. The first big challenge was getting furniture. I got some from yard sales and some from family. 

My kitchen table was actually my parents’ first kitchen table. They had gotten it from my grandparents. It was from the 50s and screamed 50s. It was steel with a Formica top. I think my brother actually has it in his apartment now. 

The neat thing is I have many memories of some important events happening at that table. 

Family celebrations, times of crisis, important and intimate conversations, and at times some important life decisions were made based on those conversations. That table is intimately linked to this table, the altar. 

We come to this table for times of celebration and times of crisis and sadness. We engage in important and intimate conversations with our God and at times, some important life decisions are made based on those conversations. 

Like our kitchen tables, we bring our stresses and trials, joys and successes to the altar at this meal. They become part of our offering. We share them with one another and with God. 

During the course of our great prayer of thanksgiving, God receives our sacrifices, our very selves and sanctifies them.  

We are nourished, strengthened, challenged and given the wisdom to help us live a life consistent with who we are as Children of God and members of this great faith family.

Anchor columnist Father Frederici is pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Pocasset and diocesan director of Campus Ministry and Chaplain at UMass Dartmouth and Bristol Community College.

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