We are called to be Jesus’ heart, hands, feet, voice to others
In the second glorious mystery of the rosary, we celebrate Jesus’ return at His Ascension to His Heavenly Father who sent Him into the world for love of us. However, Jesus remains very present and at work in the world through us who have become His living Body through baptism and who have received the power and gifts of His Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Through the gift of faith and baptism, we become the living Body of Christ in our time and our place. We might properly describe the Church as the people loved and called by God through the power of the Holy Spirit to be the living Body of Jesus. Jesus is present through us who are the Church in order that we might continue His mission. Jesus depends upon us to be His heart, His hands, His feet, His voice to those whom we encounter in our daily activities.
Jesus established His Church to be outgoing. Each one of us was baptized for mission. Jesus desires us to bring Him and His Good News to others. Our first call is to grow deeper in love with Jesus and to surrender our lives to Jesus so that we experience Him accompanying us and guiding us in our challenges and responsibilities. He gives us His hand and lifts us up when we fall. He guides us through the wisdom of His Holy Spirit and gives us the courage to bring His merciful love and the reconciling peace of His Gospel to others in our families, workplaces, and neighborhoods.
Jesus counts on us to bring the truth of God and the truth of ourselves and our destiny to others, to bring His healing presence to those who live without purpose, in confusion, and in material poverty. As disciples of Jesus, we don’t flee from the world but we become a very positive force in bringing Jesus’ merciful love to the poor, needy, and marginalized.
You may recall that Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” last November on the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Our Holy Father returns to the theme of joy frequently in his talks and homilies. Our joy comes from our personal relationship with Jesus. As Pope Francis said in the third paragraph of the Apostolic Exhortation: “Whenever we take a step toward Jesus, we come to realize that He is already there, waiting with open arms…How good it feels to come back to Him whenever we are lost!...With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, He makes it possible for us to lift up our heads to start anew.”
How good it is for us to discover how much we are loved by Jesus and saved by Him. How much even greater is our joy from sharing the love of Jesus with others. As St. Paul writes: “The love of Christ urges us on!” (2 Cor 5:14). The joy of a loving relationship with Jesus derives from our being set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, and loneliness. It comes from knowing and experiencing the embrace of God who is Love. Jesus assured us at the Last Supper: “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11).
What a blessing to have been given the gift of faith and baptism, to have been loved by the Father and called to be Church, the living Body of Jesus. What a gift to live in a personal relationship with God and called to share God’s kingdom of love and mercy with others. In a June Pastoral Congress for the Diocese of Rome, Pope Francis reminded the attendees: “The Church grows not by proselytism but by maternal attraction, through tenderness, through the testimony of her many children….People hope to find Jesus’ gaze in us, often without realizing it; they seek a serene and joyful gaze that enters the heart.”
The Church anticipates that each parish offer the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults as a process throughout the year. Many parishes mark the beginning of a new process next month. You may be moved to invite a friend or family member to join you in participating in the RCIA process. Through their participation, they too might experience the joy of knowing Jesus and His Gospel. Perhaps they are ready to hear His invitation: “I have come to bring you life, life in abundance” (Jn 10:10).