Dear People of Saint Anne,
The theme of the 2019 Annual Catholic Appeal is Come, follow me … and share the Word.
Many of the great saints of our tradition, such as St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Brigid of Sweden and St. Francis de Sales and St. Teresa of Avila, prayed by imagining themselves inside the gospel that they were reading or that they had heard. We can do the same thing today to our great advantage.
We can, for example, enter into today’s gospel passage drawn from chapter six of St. Luke’s gospel. Picture the scene as Luke does-a large stretch of level ground. Imagine being with the people who are there-a large number of Jesus’ disciples and others who are there to hear Jesus and perhaps become his disciples. We can see Jesus as he begins to share a word with this great crowd. We can sense that he is going to say something of decisive importance to them. He has already called them-and us-to be his disciples, his followers. Now he forms them in a way of life that enables them to be his true disciples and to share his destiny.
The call to follow Jesus, as he explains it in the various blessings and woes that he enumerates, always summons us to recognize the lasting future effects of how we live our lives right now, in this moment. As disciples called by Jesus, we find ourselves poised between our present moment and God’s promised future. So, for example, he says, “Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied.”
If now we follow a path of self-satisfaction, self-absorption, our own amusement and a drive to achieve the esteem of others, we will inevitably fall into a woeful state in the future. If, on the other hand, we follow the way of Jesus who was poor, hungry and dependent on his heavenly father, ready to embrace his cross, and willing to endure the rejection of others for a greater good, we will find that blessedness, that happiness and fulfillment that only God can give us.
The word of God, the worship of the Church and our life together in the Church-all this keeps reorienting us to our call to be disciples, to our mission and purpose in this world, and to a way of living in the blessedness of God. All this is not distant, and it is not complicated. It is in the ordinary circumstances of our lives that we live as disciples and carry on our mission-in our marriages and families, in the workplace, in school, in our neighborhoods and larger civic community, as we struggle and celebrate and support each other. Our response in these present moments shapes how we can live in God’s promise in the future.
Next weekend, we will once again have a special opportunity to reclaim our lives as disciples. It is the Commitment Weekend for the Annual Catholic Appeal. The theme for this year’s Appeal follows from last year and develops it: Come, follow me … and share the Word. It is, of course, an appeal to support the work of the Church with our contributions. Even more, however, it is an opportunity to reflect and pray about our following of Jesus as his disciples and our mission to share his word in our speech and in our actions.
Yours in Christ,
Father Bernie Pietrzak