Building the Kingdom of God together

Photo: Stephen Brashear Photo: Stephen Brashear

As I begin my time with you as your archbishop, I am so grateful for the warm reception I have received. I am truly enjoying my travels around the archdiocese, meeting so many people and getting to know our parishes and communities. Please be patient with me as I learn our history, and please continue to pray for me that I may always be open to the promptings and inspirations of the Holy Spirit as together we seek to discern, define and fulfill the mission that is ours from the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

Our mission: The great commission

I wish to draw our attention to the Lord Jesus and the great commission he gave his apostles after the Resurrection, just before he ascended to heaven. He told them, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)

St. Mark’s Gospel has a slightly different version of this commissioning: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

St. Luke portrays Jesus telling the apostles to proclaim to the world what they themselves witnessed, namely, that the Messiah suffered, died and rose from the dead and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be preached to all the nations in his name. (see Luke 24:44-49)

My friends, this may seem elementary, but sometimes we need to focus on the basics, to make sure that everything else has a proper priority, and that all our activity is oriented to our essential mission.

Proclaim the good news! Do we know what this good news is? Better yet, do we know who the good news is? If not, we cannot proclaim! We are not fulfilling the mission. The good news — the Gospel — is the person of Jesus.

The importance of community

The Acts of the Apostles shows how we carry out Jesus’ great commission in community! “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

As we begin our time together, we must be clear about the work Jesus has entrusted to us. We also must recognize the importance of community — not just at a fundamental human level, but especially in practicing and handing on the faith.

One of my main concerns — not just for our archdiocese, but for people everywhere — is the lack of community. Living solely as individuals is not Catholic living. Isolation is damaging for our parishes, our schools and our people. Catholics live in community with each other.

While technology brings us great benefits, there are also clear downsides that lead to loneliness and disconnection. Cultural structures that once fostered community are quickly falling to the wayside. Instead of neighborhoods where each home had a front porch, we have high-rises and gated communities.

People need authentic community. We can do this — together. Let us be intentional about bringing Christ into every level of our lives, from our friendships, to our marriages, to our families, to our parishes, to our broader communities.

As individuals, we have much to gain by becoming active members in our parishes. We have much to offer one another, especially support in living and giving expression to our faith. One of the greatest ways we experience community is rooted in the Third Commandment, to keep holy the Lord’s Day. It is so important for us to gather each Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist and be nourished and strengthened in the life of Christ through his word, body and blood.

It is my pleasure to join you in the great mission of proclaiming Jesus Christ to the world, and together with you, to strengthen the bonds of communion that unite us in the body of Christ.

Read the Spanish version of this column.

Northwest Catholic - October 2019