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Fr. Anthony's Message

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

When was the last time you ate in a cafeteria? I cannot remember the last time I myself ate in a cafeteria but I can remember what I like the most about eating in a cafeteria, the selection of different foods and mixing and matching according to my likes and dislikes. The particular selection I like the best is the different flavors of Jell-O. I love Jell-O, all the different flavors, Raspberry, Strawberry, Lime, Orange, and lemon. But after surveying the selections of Jell-O, I have to make a decision, what flavor do I want. Faith and the practice of our faith can be like selecting a particular flavor of Jell-O at a cafeteria, which one will we decide on?

Deciding on being people of faith means we accept that salvation comes through Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ only. By accepting salvation, we accept that we are saved by Jesus Christ through His suffering death on the cross. Here is where the cafeteria approach can cause us a problem, if we accept a share in Christ’s continued mission, we must accept a share in bringing that mission to its fulfillment. How do we bring God’ plan of salvation to its completion? By bringing to all the nations the news of God’s new creation.

What part should we be willing to accept in bringing about this new creation? St. Paul tells us in his Letter to the Romans 8:18-23, “I consider that the suffering of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” St. Paul was willing to embrace missionary discipleship which was the outward sign that he accepted that he was saved by the suffering and death of Christ. He then accepted his share in bringing about the completion of this new creation which was made possible by the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Paul accepted a share not only in the mission of bringing about this new creation but also the suffering that ineffably goes along with it. “We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.”

Pope Francis tells us that we who are the church are called to be missionary disciples and we who are saved by the actions of Christ on the cross must go forth leading the way for others as we share the fruits of the spirit. “The Church which ‘goes forth’ is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice.” If we are going to bear fruit as missionary disciples, we have to be sowers of good seed and not only sowers of good seed, we have to be good stewards who prepare the ground to accept the seeds. We are the sowers, the world is the ground and the seeds are the fruits of our faith. Jesus tells us in today’s gospel, “Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” (Matt. 13:1-9)

Embracing Pope Francis’ renewed call to Missionary Discipleship, means we are called to evangelize. Evangelization requires a response to accept the churches apostolic mission. Sherry Weddell writes in her book Forming Intentional Disciples, that the church’s theological, moral and social justice are not always understood by the church’s leadership and the faithful nor is the lived-out experience of church disciples able to communicate the teaching of the church. To help people know and understand their call to missionary discipleship we have to know and understand our own call to the apostolic mission of Jesus Christ. Often, we do not understand this call and are not able to effectively evangelize. Where does our call come from? It comes from our baptism. What does our baptism call us to? Discipleship. What is discipleship? To share in the continued mission of Jesus Christ. What is the continued mission of Jesus Christ? To proclaim to all the nations, that Jesus saves. How does Jesus save? Through His suffering and death on the cross, we share in this salvific action by virtue of our baptism.

The faithful share in this apostolic mission by intentionally sharing our gifts and answering the call to Missionary Discipleship. Have you answered that call?

Forming Intentional Disciples Study Guide Provides tools and resources to helps us answer Pope Francis’ call to evangelization Ideal for parish use or small group study Helpful and inspiring Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus has become one of the most talked-about books of the decade in Catholic parishes across the country. Written by Sherry Weddell, co-founder and co-director of the Catherine of Siena Institute, Forming Intentional Disciples takes a clear-eyed look at the state of the Church today.

Based on more than a decade of research with Catholics from across the country, the issues and opportunities in this book connect seamlessly with Pope Francis' call for evangelization as we open wide the doors of faith! Now the book that is changing hearts has a study guide that will help you change your parish or small faith community. Created by people who have experienced the transformative impact of discipleship firsthand, the Forming Intentional Disciples Study Guide provides tools and resources to "break the silence," initiate conversations, share the story of faith, and begin walking the path of discipleship together.

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Yours in Christ,

Fr. Anthony