A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly."
Happy Easter! What a beautiful gift the Church gives us: 50 days, from the first Sunday of Easter until Pentecost, to celebrate and meditate on the "joy of glorified life and victory over death." Our faith is predicated on this truth, as St. Peter affirms: "If Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, is your faith." (1 Cor 15:14). The resurrection is the reason for our joy. In one of his letters, Pope Francis wrote "Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved." (EG 6).
This past semester, I took a course on the Nicene Creed we profess each Sunday. At the beginning of the course, I came across a sentence in my readings that stopped me in my tracks. "…if a man loves God knowing a little about Him, he should love God more from knowing more about Him: for every new thing known about God is a new reason for loving Him." After I read this, I thought about my marriage of 26 years. I was able to see the journey my husband and I have taken, how we got to know each other and how that led to a deeper more meaningful love for each other––a selfless love. It is the same way with God. Like my marriage, my relationship with God has been a steady process of opening to grace, of having courage to seek, and learning more about the immensity and majesty of God––and His perfect, infinite love.
The fact is that we are all on a journey. We were created in love and as Frank Sheed so eloquently wrote, "we are related to God, fallen in Adam, redeemed by Christ, united with Christ in the Church, aided by angels, hindered by devils, destined for heaven, in peril of hell." In today's Gospel we can see the stark contrast between the thief who comes to steal and destroy life and Christ who came "so that they might have life and have it more abundantly." The words used in this Gospel speak to the intimate relationship that Jesus wants to have with each of us: "the shepherd calls his own sheep by name" and "they recognize his voice".
We celebrate the faith we believe in the sacraments that give us life in Christ, dispensed through His holy Church. Looking at the faces of the 2nd grade students who have received Jesus for the very first time this weekend, one can easily see the joy of this encounter of love. This year, we are blessed to have 137 children receive their First Holy Communion. And in a few weeks, 136 teens will be receive the sacrament of Confirmation from Bishop Bootkoski and become fully initiated into the Catholic Church to continue Christ's mission here on earth.
In fact, each one of us who has been "incorporated in Christ through Baptism…are called to exercise the mission which God has entrusted to the Church." (CCC 871) This past year, we had 122 parishioners who dedicated themselves to Christ's mission by serving His children as catechists. It was the first time that 26 of these individuals taught or served as an aide in the classroom. When asked what challenges they faced before saying "yes" to serving, one catechist replied, "The only obstacle standing in the way was myself and my own fears." This was the case for me too! I was petrified when I first signed up to teach 4th grade. I can assure you that God will not be outdone in gratitude. He will surely bless you for having the courage to say "yes" to His mission. As one of our 1 st year catechists wrote, "Teaching is an amazing opportunity to strengthen your faith while helping the children of our parish grow in theirs." Maggie Castles and I are so very grateful to our catechists for serving with such energy and enthusiasm. As I write this letter, we are still in great need of catechists, aides, hall monitors, support for students with special needs, and help with special events. Jesus Christ is calling you by name. Please answer His call to serve His beloved children.
May God shower you and your family with His blessings!
Bridget Rincon, Parish Catechetical LeaderBACK TO LIST