In the past two Sundays the Church has celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity and the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. A shared aspect of both of these feasts (that I would like to highlight for this letter) is true and authentic community.
Through the coming of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit we have been brought into the awareness that God is a community of persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. More than an interesting theological pondering; this reality truly takes root in our lives when we remember that we have been made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26-27). At our core is relationship and we truly become ourselves only when we seek to live in honest and authentic community with each other.
Sometimes a critique leveled against the Catholic Church is that we are not as welcoming as some other churches (usually in the more evangelistic mode). I do believe that we should always strive to be welcoming and open to others and that there are things we can certainly learn from other faith traditions in this regard but I think it valuable to distinguish honest welcome and concern from proselytizing and entertaining.
The Catholic Church does not proselytize. We do not intentionally go out of our way to lure other people away from their faith tradition. We believe what we believe and we are certainly willing to share what we believe and invite others (if they wish) to learn about the Catholic faith but we also respect other people and what they believe. We do not seek to manipulate other people into our church. Also, when we gather on Sunday, we gather to worship God and not to entertain ourselves nor use God as a means to our feeling good about ourselves. We certainly strive to make our worship beautiful and meaningful but the object of worship is God and not ourselves and our particular need in the moment. At the heart of this “approach” to being church, I believe, is a reflection of the community of the Trinity – relationships built on honesty, love for the other and mutual respect.
We are strengthened and nourished for this call to true community by the gift of the Eucharist – the most Sacred Body and Blood of Christ. In my homily on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ I shared an encounter I once had with a Protestant Minister. He had recently co-officiated a wedding at a church in our diocese and he talked about the large crucifix over the altar and then he went on to say (and this was a critique on his part) that he saw no signs of the resurrection in that church. In the homily I joked that “two days later” I had my snappy response to his critique – the surest sign of the resurrection is the Eucharist. The Eucharist (which we hold dear as Catholics) is not just an outward sign of the resurrection like a nice statue or painting or song but a participation in the resurrection itself! It is also a participation that truly brings us into unity and sustains us in unity!
Brothers and sisters: the cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. (1 Cor. 10:16-17)
In all things we should strive to be community for one another and in witness to our world but it is also most important to remember that this unity we know is not of our own doing – it is rooted in the very life of God and nourished and strengthened in the gift of the Eucharist.
May God always bless our St. Dominic Church community!