Immersed in Christ
Immersed in Christ: April 29, 2020
Wednesday, Third Week of Easter
The Responsorial (Psalm 66) extends Easter joy to every creature: “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.” The key to this joy is seeing and believing. The Psalm continues: “Come and see the works of God …. Therefore let us rejoice in him.”
Acts 8: 1-8 shows us Philip, who was chosen for the administrative task of distributing food, “proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” and baptizing. “Philip went down to… Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them.” 1
Philip and the others with him were doing all of this as what we call “laypersons.” 2 Church rules and customs change with the times, but it is important to remember that according to our theology all of the baptized are consecrated and empowered as prophets to bear witness to Jesus Christ in word and action. Anyone can validly baptize, although the Church has prudently ruled that for Catholics this should normally take place and be registered only in a parish and under the jurisdiction of a pastor. Likewise, during Mass the specific preaching of “homilies” is restricted by current rules to the clergy. We should not let this make us forget, however, that by Baptism we are all charged to preach the Gospel and teach each other the word of God in every possible way. We are prophets:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 3
It would be a natural mistake to see in the Presentation of Gifts only the “administrative” action of preparing the altar and bringing up the gifts. All present need to remind themselves to enter into this moment with minds and hearts alert to the spiritual meaning embodied in the actions. We present ourselves under the symbols of bread and wine to be offered with Christ and in Christ during the Eucharistic Prayer. This is a peak moment of Mass: “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.”
In John 6: 35-40 Jesus promises: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” This obviously invites us to deep, personal, direct interaction with Jesus in everything we do. But it also makes us conscious that many people will “come to Jesus,” especially in the beginning of their faith journey, only by seeing him in others who are his body and real presence on earth. To “see” him they must have faith. But they will find faith by seeing faith embodied in the lifestyle of those who already have it. This defines our role as prophets: to live in such a way that our life can only be explained by Christ living within us. It is to this that we pledge ourselves at the Presentation of Gifts..
Initiative: Let people see Jesus as the only explanation of what they see in you.
1 Verse 12. See Acts 6:1-6, 8:26-40, 21:8. 2 The identification of “deacons” with the “seven” chosen in Acts 6:1-6 is not Scriptural. 3 Colossians 3:16. See also 2Timothy 2:2, 1John 2:27; Hebrews 8:10-11. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 436, 1241, 1268.