May 5, 2017
FRIDAY, Easter week three
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The Response (Mark 16:15; used with Psalm 117) is a mandate to all Christians consecrated at Baptism to be prophets: “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.”
In Acts 9: 1-20 Saul receives the Good News the “hard way”: being struck down and blinded by the brightness of God as Jesus identifies himself to him and tells him what he must do. Jesus seems to take Saul’s conversion for granted; and in fact, when Ananias cures him Saul, now known as Paul, is baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. Then “he began at once to proclaim Jesus.”
The sequence here is 1. encounter with Jesus; 2. instruction (we presume) from Ananias; 3. Baptism; 4. the gift of the Holy Spirit (which may have preceded Baptism); 5. proclamation of the Good News with joy.
In the Church’s pastoral practice today, children usually receive Baptism first, then instruction — in the course of which, hopefully, they encounter Jesus. And then they may or may not — depending on how consciously they have received the Holy Spirit — begin to proclaim the Good News to others.
Jesus called Paul “an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles.” We are all chosen instruments of God, as truly as Paul was, consecrated as prophets by Baptism and empowered by the Spirit at Confirmation to proclaim the Good News of Jesus. But before we will do this we must encounter Jesus in a way that is deep, real and personal to us. And we need to pursue instruction as disciples in order to embody the message of Jesus au-thentically in our lives and express it without distortion in our words.
Eucharist is a key element in all this. If we participate “fully, actively and consciously,” we can both receive instruction and encounter Jesus, come to know him, “in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24: 27-35).
Eucharist also sustains and nourishes Christ’s life in us. In John 6: 52-59 Jesus said, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me” — and will in turn be sent by Jesus to share with others the joy of life in Christ.
We are sent, not just by Christ, but as Christ: Jesus goes out with us to work in us and through us, as in his own body (which we are). He can give divine life through us because he abides in us, and we in him. Jesus has life from the Father; we have life from Jesus; and in us Jesus gives life to the world. This is our encouragement to “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News”: Christ in us.
Take Initiative: Be a prophet. Proclaim the Good News with joy. And train for it.