The Gospel of Matthew today quotes the words of Isaiah that we heard proclaimed in the First Reading:
…the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.
Jesus of course is The Light, and the light that dispels the darkness is the light of his Good News and of his kingdom—a kingdom of justice, mercy, goodness and enduring peace. Following upon last Sunday’s theme of being CALLED AND SENT, we take Jesus’ declaration that he will make his apostles and disciples “fishers of men” a further assurance of The Light continued—even to our own day. How could we not understand the great outpouring of our own parishioners and of the world in response to the victims of one disaster after another, one shooting after another, as continuance of our participation in Jesus’ Light and Good News active and effective. For those “dwelling in lands overshadowed by death, light has arisen” in the form of helping hands, wide-scale personal sacrifice, and generous response to the cries of the poor.
Any form of dispelling darkness in our own lives and in the lives of others is certainly a sign of Jesus’ kingdom alive and well. But St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians adds a further challenge: the maintenance of Christian Unity; that is, living Jesus’ Holy Communion.” Paul goes even to the point of claiming that lack of Christian unity “empties the cross of Christ of its meaning.” Imagine that! Our good works void of the accompaniment of good will, unity, and peace renders Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as meaningless. Paul specifies to the Corinthians that it is their division-causing rivalries, jealousy, and pride that rob their own personal sacrifices and good works (as individuals and as a community) of meaning and of salvific merit.
I believe that the current moment for St. Rita Parish is the development of our parish as a faithful people, as disciples in holy communion with the Lord and with each other. Our 2007 Pastoral Plan (now in its 8th year) serves as our map for growth in community and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And, starting today, CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK is a celebration of formal education and formation in Christ for our younger members.
As we continue prayerfully and liturgically to grow in our understanding of what it means to be baptized and to be called and sent, let us not forget to add this crucial and vital ingredient of responding to Jesus’ call to unity and communion, lest we wander and wind up “emptying the cross of Christ of its meaning.”