Sacramentalized or evangelized—or BOTH? In contemporary Church thinking, an oft-referenced distinction is drawn between Catholics receiving sacraments and Catholics living an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. It is not that these realities are mutually exclusive. Indeed, God, Himself, has provided every sacrament to be an encounter with Jesus. It is rather that, almost irrefutably, many of our brothers and sisters who identify at some level as “Catholic” have received the instruction portion of the Faith—knowing about Jesus and the teachings of the Church— without actually coming to know Christ, which relationship provides the “so what” of Faith.
Now, for sure I believe that any one among us needs to be careful not unwittingly to project groups or “classes” among members of the church, consequently affixing labels on our brothers and sisters in Christ. Nevertheless, I believe that the distinction has a value, as the Church universal—AND we as the Community of Faith of Saint Mary—strive to advance the message and the mission and the heart of Jesus Christ in our lives. In other words, we who claim to have gone deeper in our relationship with Christ have a greater responsibility to testify to His presence in our lives, to all those we encounter.
Here is an admittedly crude analogy. I especially enjoy chocolate. However, along the way I have encountered food that is labeled “chocolate-favored.” I ask: what is that supposed to mean? Why would I choose something that is “sort of” chocolate, when real chocolate is available? Pertaining to relationship, if an individual asks someone to marry him or her, mainly because he or she loves the idea of marriage rather than being able sincerely say: “I love you and so want to enter into Marriage and walk toward Eternity with you,” I would say that such a proposal is suspect.
In the gospel for this weekend, drawn from Saint Matthew, while John carries out the act of baptizing Jesus, I would assert that John is having an encounter with the Christ, in some way witnessing the intimate exchange between the Son and His Father in Heaven, as the Spirit descends upon Jesus.
Although not too much else is recorded of the interactions between these cousins, I believe we can safely say that John is somehow changed by virtue of this event.
This weekend, we begin our next CORe series, on the topic of prayer. We have a great line-up of presenters and facilitators—including some priests who formerly served as parochial vicars here at Saint Mary. We are designing it to be very much a dialogue, in a sense modeling the fundamental nature of prayer, itself: not just us addressing God, but equally (if not quite more) God addressing us.
Finally, I want take this opportunity to extend heartfelt thanks to the Buheit family. Paul and Leila have served as counters for forty years, part of that time along with their son, Steve. As they understandably step away from these duties after an exceptional term of service, we commend their family intentions to the Lord and to our Blessed Mother.
For quick access to the entire bulletin for this weekend ONLINE, please click on the link below: