Gathering the Sheep
SEPTEMBER 16, 2018
My Dear Parishioners,
One of the effects of the Sacrament of Baptism is disciple-ship. Discipleship is one of the systems that contribute to a more meaningful and fruitful parish life. The other systems are Worship, Evangelization, Fellowship and Ministry.
As your pastor, my vision is to make Santa Barbara parish a much alive, vibrant and relevant parish. For us to achieve this, we must have these systems functional in our parish. In my previous messages I talked about Worship and Evangeli-zation. Now I am going to share with you some of my ideas about Discipleship.
When we were baptized we became disciples of Jesus. A disciple is someone who learns from the master. A disciple is someone who follows the master. A disciple is someone who strives to become like the master himself. To learn, to follow and to become—that is what discipleship is. How do we learn, how do we follow, how do we become like Jesus?
First, we should be strengthened and nourished by the Holy Spirit through the Sacraments. Once baptized, we need to be receive the Sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist. A regular attendance in the Sunday celebration of the Mass is a must. Healing and reconciliation through the Sacrament of Confession is also nec-essary. To those who are married, they should have received the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Secondly, we must grow in our knowledge and love of Jesus through study and prayer. Reading the Bible, the Church documents and Catholic literature is some-thing we can do to enhance our knowledge of God and His Church. Spending time in personal prayer and refection will deepen our relationship with Jesus. If possible, we attend Bible studies, prayer meetings, seminars, etc. Attending recol-lections and retreats are also highly recommended. In short, we have the moral obligation to nurture and nourish the faith we have received in Baptism.
Thirdly, we can be good disciples of Jesus by doing works of charity and justice. “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one anoth-er.” (Jn 13:34-35) Discipleship demands that we serve others in a spirit of love and sacrifice. This is a mark of a disciple of Jesus, who showed us how to love and sacrifice for others.
Lastly, bearing in mind the words of our Lord, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me,” we can do the cor-poral works of mercy: to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to give shelter to strangers, to visit the sick, to visit the imprisoned, and to bury the dead.
As we strive to be good disciples of Jesus, and as we invoke the help of our Blessed Mother, let us pray to God that we may “know Jesus more deeply, and follow Him more closely, and love Him more dearly.”
Prayers and blessing,
SEPTEMBER 9, 2018
My Dear Parishioners,
Our parish life consists of five systems: Worship, Evangelization, Disciple-ship, Fellowship and Ministry. These systems must all be present in a par-ish setting and they must complement each other in order to achieve a vi-brant and meaningful parish life. Last week, I wrote about Worship and gave you some suggestions on how we can make the Mass more relevant and meaningful to our lives. This week our focus is on Evangelization. It is the duty of every Christian to evangelize others. Evangelization is not only living the life and teachings of Jesus but talk-ing about it to others. Let me share with you this beautiful article on evangelization written by Maurice Blumberg, the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men.
“If someone were to tell you that you need to evangelize other men, what would be your reaction? Perhaps, it might be, “I evangelize by example not with words. That’s what priests and deacons do.” Or maybe, it would be, “I would like to, but I’m not trained or knowledgeable enough to do it.” Or maybe, “That’s something Evangelical Protestants do, not Catholics.” We as Catholic men have to get over the notion that evangelism is for Protestant. This notion is totally untrue—evangelization is the “essential Catholic mission.”
Just before he ascended into heaven, Jesus told the apostles: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Beginning on Pentecost, the apostles did just that, and the work of evangelization continues to this day. It is a calling that has not changed over the years, as Pope Paul VI affirmed in his letter on “Evangelization in the Modern World.”
“We wish to confirm once more that the task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church. It is a task and mission which the vast and profound changes of present day society make all the more urgent. Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evange-lize.”
Evangelization is not an optional add-on. It is at the very heart of what it means to be Catholic followers of the Lord. Yet, in spite of this clear mandate, we may still be tempted to respond to this call to evangelization by saying that “Catholics evangelize with how they live their lives, not by our words.” We may even quote the words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times; use words if necessary.” But this doesn’t mean that we can choose between proclaiming and living the gospel, as if they both accomplish the same thing. Paul VI went on to explain in “Evangelization in the Modern World” the important interplay between word and witness in this way:
“The Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life. There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not pro-claimed.”
Perhaps the resistance of Catholics (especially Catholic men) to the call to evangelization is due to conjuring up images of street preachers and television evangelists shouting “Repent” or talking about the “wages of sin.” Or maybe we think of saints or missionaries or gifted Catholic priests. But true evangelization—whatever form it takes—is born from a love for people and a desire that everyone on earth come to know the love of Christ and the blessings of living in his kingdom. As St. Paul once told the Corinthians: “The love of Christ impels us” to proclaim Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14).
Perhaps, the resistance to this call is because we believe that it is not a teaching of the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes a disciple in this way: “The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, con-fidently bear witness to it, and spread it.”
Let us then pray, my dear parishioners, that we may first allow ourselves to be evangelized so that we can in turn evangelize others. May you have a safe and happy week ahead.
Prayers and blessing,