Saturday, July 6, 2013

It's OUR mission!

We just celebrated Independence Day, the 4th of July.  As we know there were parades, that remind us of our history.  We honor all who have given us this gift of independence as a nation, and we honor our men and women who give of themselves.  But Independence Day is not a military holiday; it is a national holiday that reminds us that our nation was founded by men and women of all stripes, both civilian and some with a military background.    As the first sentence of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence states, all men and women are created equal.  Different callings, responsibilities, but still equal in the eyes of the law.  As in our faith, we are all equal in the eyes of our God.  And we al share equally in the church’s mission according to our own individual calling.  We also have a shared responsibility to contribute to the Lord’s mission.  We all share the vineyard and are called to be the workers that Christ is calling forth in the gospel. 

Too often this gospel is used as a challenge to pray for vocations to religious life or ordained ministry, and other ecclesial leadership roles in the church.  But it is a universal call to all to commit to what we begun in baptism, namely to continue the mission of Jesus as modern-day disciples.  In fact Vatican II has called us all to actively participate in the mission as we are called to actively participate in the celebration of the death and rising of Jesus, known as our Eucharistic Liturgy, or the mass.  I would say Resurrection University Parish does a pretty good job at that.  We have close to 180 people who have made a commitment to serve in various aspects of liturgical ministry. The people’s work, the Liturgy is the first vineyard where we are schooled about our faith, then sent to live it. We live our faith by being good stewards in caring for all as a good farmer cares for his or her crops so to yield a bountiful harvest. Being a steward, I like that word as it connotes caring, working to see a goal reached and fulfilled. A Christian steward realizes that he or she is given temporary care of creation and all it entails.  A steward assists in the Lord’s vineyard by cultivating peace, respect, and insures that each human potential can be reached. This week we lost a member of our community Marian Sheehan.  As many of you know Marian was ill for many years.  However her stewardship in the community is also well known.  Along with Ed her husband she offered countless hours in caring for the children with terminal illness at Eagle Mount here in Bozeman.  That is stewardship.

In looking at the number 72 in the Gospel, we know it signifies totality; so the total of those baptized into the name of Jesus Christ without exception have been commissioned to live a vocation. Today’s gospel calls each of us to go out to the nearby villages and towns as bearers of the Good News of Jesus Christ. It challenges us to go where we are known and 'received' and to stay there and live the message we bring. We are not to leave unless folks stop listening or no longer collaborate with us. Then it's about shaking the dust from our sandals and moving on to other situations and other possibilities where we are heard, where the door is open.

We are moving toward the heart of summertime; the doors and windows are open; people are outside and enjoying the weather; there's room for good-news gatherings and conversations! Summer finds us a little more laid back and more relaxed, and this kind of atmosphere allows for dialog and the movement of the Holy Spirit. May the season challenge and inspire all of us with Gospel fever!

But just as we hear in the gospel, good stewards who are willing to witness their Catholic faith to others know they are “like lambs among wolves.” They are encouraged to be gentle, patient and loving, knowing they may face rejection and even fierce opposition. The New Evangelization invites us to be better stewards of our faith, to give positive, courageous, joyful witness to others who have turned away from their relationship with Jesus. Is there someone we should be reaching out to this week?