Being missionaries of love

“He loved His own in the world and He loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1).

There is a story told about the Apostle John towards the end of his life. People had come from all over to hear him and his stories about his experiences with Jesus. He kept repeating the phrase, “Children, love one another.” When someone asked him why he kept repeating that phrase, his answer was, “Because that is what the Master kept repeating to us.” 

St. John happens to be one of my favorite Scripture writers. In his writings, he seeks to capture the essence behind the teachings. 

Hence, this evening we hear of the actions surrounding the Last Supper and are taught by these Scriptures of the significance and roots of the Eucharist that the Lord institutes that evening. 

The washing of the feet becomes an integral part of the Last Supper. It is an expression of love. 

 This expression is emphasized by Jesus Himself when He exorts us through the words of the Gospel, “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

It is important that we keep in mind that to honor the Eucharist is more than Adoration and going to Mass, it is of being of service to our family members and friends. 

 It means that we realize that the Eucharist is a source of love and is the unifying and life-giving force that we need to overcome even the greatest problems facing us. 

In his letter announcing the Year of the Eucharist in October 2004, St. John Paul II echoed the words heard from St. Paul: “As often as you eat this Bread and drink the Cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor 11:26). 

The saint then wrote, “The Apostle closely relates meal and proclamation: entering into communion with Christ in the memorial of His Pasch also means sensing the duty to be a missionary of the event made present in that rite. The dismissal at the end of each Mass is a charge given to Christians, inviting them to work for the spread of the Gospel and the imbuing of society with Christian values.”

What does the mission of love look like? It actually is accomplished through some ordinary ways. Some of these ordinary ways have some extraordinary consequences. The Boston Globe once had an article by Richard Higgins in the opinion section about Oscar Romero, the archbishop who was gunned down in El Salvador March 24, 1980.  Higgins writes:

 “Romero is recalled as someone who pursued and achieved a measure of change not through an elitist agenda, social theory, hatred of the rich, or fury at injustice. Rather he displayed the fundamental truth that valuing and loving others builds the foundation of justice. He was that rare person in a powerful position who sought to bring down the high and raise the low” (Richard Higgins, March 24, 2005 Boston Globe).

Valuing and loving others builds the foundation of justice.

A concept we find in Jesus’ teaching and tonight’s Gospel. A challenge to all of us on how to live. 

Problems still exist in our world:

Domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, lost youth, civil rights being trampled on, the list goes on. We don’t want the status quo, but the solution requires us be active, whether we are homebound and can only offer our prayers, or able to give an hour or more to be Christ in our community. 

We are to be Christ, not be a lone ranger, or a single hero, to be Christ, Who dwells among His people.

Being a missionary of love is being a missionary of the Eucharist. Allowing the Lord Himself to nurture and strengthen the gift of faith within us so that we can utilize our gifts and talents to better our community and our world. 

As missionaries, our actions need to include taking time for our own faith relationship; incorporating faith and devotional practices that keep us connected so that we can then go out and invite others to join us at this table, to make this a place where we come not only to worship and to be nourished, but to serve.

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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