August 11, 2019

Friends ,

I am presently reading “What is the Mission of the Church?” by Roger Schroeder. It was recommended to me by one of our parishioners. I am so impressed with Catholics who are able and willing to broaden their horizons as they try to figure out what it means to be a Catholic/Christian today.

One of the chapters focuses on how the Liturgy (Mass) plays a role in the mission of the Church. As you know, we call the Eucharist the source and summit of who we are. I ask myself, why is it that we encourage Catholics to celebrate Mass together every weekend? Obviously, sharing in the body and blood of Christ and reflecting on the Word of God in the Scriptures give us an identity as the people of God. Being together at the table is a visual of what it means to see that the Body of Christ is very visible in the community itself. This is one of the reasons that we treat each other with respect because each of us is created in God’s image. So we are totally blessed with the presence of each person who chooses to celebrate with us. But there has to be more to it than that. One of the optional dismissal prayers at Mass is “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord”. That surely reminds us that the Mission of the Church continues as we bring our faith and beliefs to our families, our streets, and our community.

The author reminds us that “mission is not just from ‘inside’ (the Church) to ‘outside’ but also the reverse. Bringing the voices and concerns of the neighborhood and world into the Liturgy in various ways prevents the community from focusing too much on itself and opens its members to being attentive, nourished, and challenged by God’s movement in the wider world”.

There are Catholics who still believe the Church should set itself apart from the world. That surely limits the mission and can make us feel very good about ourselves because we come to Church but it truly can be a sign of isolation and indifference.

The homily (sermon) is probably the most appropriate aspect of the Mass to be reminded and challenged about our responsibilities as “disciples in Mission”. Some of the issues that may be necessary to reflect upon at Church from the “outside” can be very controversial if members of the congregation limit their sense of mission e.g. the issues of poverty, social justice, nuclear and chemical weapons, terrorism, violence in the neighborhoods of our country, immigration, the environment, preserving our natural resources, racism, equal rights and gender equality.

It seemed to be so much easier when we talked about “the mission” and we could donate toward “ransoming pagan babies” and believed we had done our part. Now it’s about “the mission” and the financial contribution is truly appreciated but it has to be reflective of a much deeper commitment. If we are still offended when the issues that face humanity every day are brought into the Liturgy and held up against the Gospel message, we are limiting what it means to be a Christian.

The book speaks much better than I (only 140 pages).

Enjoy life!
Father Coyne


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