Updated: Aug 20, 2020
The mission statement of Sacred Heart reads: “Striving to be a grateful parish, following Christ by loving God, and loving our neighbors as ourselves through our words, deeds, and thoughts.”
These are lofty goals, and in the few weeks I have been among you I see that this mission is more than just words, but a way of life you are actively cultivating.
My own first impression, then, is precisely one of gratitude. Thank you for your welcome. Thank you for your patience as I learn the names and faces, the routines and customs, the programs and people. Thank you for your patience and perseverance in these challenging times … and as your recent Centennial recalls, through so many challenging times. Thank you for your sense of stewardship of the abundance of God’s gifts. Thank you for continuing to participate in the life of Sacred Heart even when we cannot be together as usual. Thank you for your creativity and openness as we explore becoming an even more vibrant community of parishes in an Area Catholic Community. So much goodness is here.
I read the parish history with great interest. It is an inspiring story of people like us, thriving through being grateful, generous, and loving disciples of Christ. Of course, being inspired by the past is also an invitation to build on those foundations. What will the parishioners of Sacred Heart in 2119 learn from our parish life today as followers of Christ?
As you know, the term “Christ” is not Jesus’ surname, but a title: Christus in Latin is Christos in Greek is Messiah in Hebrew, all meaning literally “Anointed One.” To call Jesus “the Christ” is to acknowledge that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah of God.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, three groups of individuals were ritually anointed to consecrate them for their roles among God’s People: priests, prophets, and kings. The mission of every parish is ultimately the universal mission of the Church, continuing the mission of Jesus Christ Himself as Priest, Prophet, and King. Jesus brings together in Himself these three roles, and we are anointed with the oil of Chrism (the same root word as Christ) in our Baptism and in Confirmation.
We share in the priestly role of Jesus in worship, sacraments, and prayer (both communally and individually). The role of the priest is creating an intentional connection between the human and the divine, between the things of this world and the things of God. Every time you pray, you join your life to that of Jesus, our great High Priest.
We share in the prophetic role of Jesus in speaking God’s Word into our world. In Hebrew, the term of prophet is nabi’, literally “mouthpiece.” The prophet is not one who foretells the future, but one who recalls and makes present the past – the Covenant God has made with His people. The prophetic voice recalls us to the unchanging faithful love of God and, guided by the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus, seeks to proclaim words of faith, hope, and love in the needs of today. At home, in politics and business, in education and healthcare, in public life and in our personal relationships, God seeks to speak through us. Surrounded by so many words – written, spoken, texted, emailed, chatted – God’s word can be elusive. Every time we speak God’s truth in love, we become prophets like Jesus, the Word made flesh.
We share in the kingly role of Jesus through service. He says clearly that He came, not to be served, but to serve. The kingship of Jesus is revealed in lowliness, humility, self-emptying: from the obscure and poor birth of Bethlehem to the hidden years of Nazareth to the entry into Jerusalem on a donkey (rather than a warrior’s steed) to the Cross with its mocking inscription: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Every time we serve in humble love, we become royalty in God’s house like Jesus, the Servant of all.
Thank you for the ways you do this each day.