One thing I’ve regularly heard since my arrival in Seattle is a desire on the part of our people to see a renewal of the life of the Church. While I recognize we face challenges, both within and outside of the Church, what I primarily hear is a desire for us to recover our fundamental identity in Christ, and to live out the basic mission of the Church, which is to proclaim Jesus Christ and his gift of salvation to the world.
Our three great gifts from God
For the Church to be fully alive, each of us needs to become fully who we are as children of God, redeemed by Jesus Christ. In other words, we need to rediscover and live our greatest identity as Catholic Christians.
I ask that each of us take time to reflect upon our three great gifts from God: creation, life, salvation. Everything we have is a gift from God! Take time to prayerfully reflect upon each of those gifts, and how you have received them. Take time to prayerfully give thanks to God for these precious expressions of his abundant love, which is so very personal.
Then, take a bit more time to pray about the gift of salvation, which we receive through the person of Jesus, and through the Church that he established.
As the sacrament of salvation, the Church embodies the person of Jesus — sent as a manifestation of the mystery of the Father’s love and mercy to lay down his life for the salvation of the world. As St. Paul teaches, salvation is a gift — it is not earned. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Because we have received this grace of salvation, because we believe in Jesus Christ, our life is a constant, grateful response to this free, unmerited gift.
All hands on deck
Have you been baptized? Then the Risen Jesus is living within you, and you are living in him. In reality, this is our greatest identity, our life in Jesus Christ. Once we truly experience this life-giving relationship, it changes us (conversion). Thus, the rest of our life is a direct response to this unmerited gift of God’s loving mercy in the person of Jesus. We then live not only wanting to enter heaven, but actively trying to achieve this destination through a moral and virtuous life.
This, my friends, is what I ask of all of us, to rediscover our greatest identity in Christ. This is the mission of the Church, this is what renewing the Church requires of each of us, to live as Christ, to allow Christ to live in and through us.
The “ship of the Church” needs all hands on deck, all oars in the water, pulling in the same direction. Christ is always at the helm of the Church. We find our unity in him.
Read the Spanish version of this column.
Northwest Catholic - November 2019