Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle
Do you know what a relay race is? One runner runs with a baton, a special stick, and when he or she finishes their part of the course, they hand off the baton to another runner who runs, and then hands it off to a third runner, then a fourth runner and so on. A race may even go on for a full day and go over a hundred miles.
In a sense, there is a race which began 2000 years ago with messengers we call the apostles. They started in Jerusalem in the upper room at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon them. These apostles were sent out to proclaim a very important message.
St. Paul summed it up when he said, "I preach Christ and him crucified." When people wondered how much God’s loved them, the apostles could simply remind them of the crucifixion and say, "This much."
The apostles proclaimed this message, and then passed it on to the next generation of messengers, and then to the next generation of messengers, down through the centuries to our own day.
You and I became official proclaimers of this message when we were baptized. The baton given to us was the crucifix. We were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The sign of the cross was made on our foreheads by the priest and our parents. We were sent out to proclaim the same message that the apostles proclaimed. "How much does God love?" We can point to a crucifix and say, "This much."
Most Christians don’t preach this message with words from a pulpit or ambo as I do. Most preach it by example.
At the Last Supper, Jesus took bread and wine and gave them to his disciples. He said "This is my body and my blood given for you…. Do this in memory of me." Do what in memory of him? Give your life for others like Jesus did. Give generously of your time, of your talents, and of your possessions for the happiness of others. Be kind. Speak the truth. Be just. Help one another. Share your blessings. Share your heart. In other words, love one another.
When people see us, the followers of Jesus, loving others so totally, they will wonder. Then they will conclude that the God we serve must be a God of love. If our lives have said that, we’ve said it all.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California http://www.alanphillipcp.com/