Ordinary Time is upon us, as we conclude the Easter Season with Pentecost. The coming of the Holy Spirit sets in motion the missionary activity of the church, focusing first on the most holy trinity and second on the most holy body and blood of our Lord, Jesus. These two solemnities point to who God is and how we are united by his real presence. Before embarking on this journey the faithful are to be rooted in a simple reality: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I believe in one God

Life_Giving Faith.pdf

The name of God was revealed to Moses, as written in Exodus, “I AM WHO I AM.” The revelation of one’s name is a way of “expressing a person’s essence, identity and meaning, which leads to intimate accessibility and a personal relationship.” (CCC #203) God revealed himself to Moses precisely this way. The establishment of this relationship originating from God, in fact, moved Moses, despite his reluctance, to lead the Israelite’s out of slavery and into covenant with God.

Deuteronomy, Chapter 4, tells the account of Moses as he affirms the incredible greatness of God as creator, and calls the Israelites to “fix in their heart” gratitude for freedom and keep all the commandments for the sole purpose of unity, obedience and eternity. Thus, we can come to know God as truly alive, merciful and gracious. He is personal, intimate, accessible and trustworthy. He is creator, truth, love and he is one. He chose them as he chose us.

St. Paul’s letter to the Romans builds upon the reality of God as creator, adding to the intimacy an invitation of heirship. God is the father of all creation and he is our father. He protects, leads, guides and provides. Just as God led the Israelites out of Egypt by the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day, he leads us by the Holy Spirit in a present-day exodus away from worldly corruption toward new life in him through Jesus Christ, his son.

I believe in Jesus Christ

Catechism #257 explains, “God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the “plan of his loving kindness”… in his beloved son: “He destined us in love to be his sons” and “to be conformed to the image of his son,” through “the spirit of son-ship.” Baptism enables the spirit of adoption into the mystical body of Christ. This plan is a “grace (which) was given to us in Christ.”

Sacrifice

We read in Exodus, Chapter 2, 4 of the ratification of the first covenant by a ritual act of sacrificed animal blood on an altar in atonement for sins, then followed by the reading of the covenant out loud to the people. Thereafter, this annual Day of Atonement continued, where a Levitical priest would enter into the holy of holies, and sprinkle the blood of sacrificed animals offered to God upon the mercy seat situated on the Ark of the Covenant, God’s presence. (For more details read “Jesus & the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist,” by Dr. Brant Pitre, Doubleday, 2011).

Jesus fulfills this atonement “once and for all” as he offers himself as sacrifice on the cross for our sins by his love. His precious body and blood becomes our lifeline to eternity. The willing sacrifice of Jesus Christ far exceeds the unwilling nature of an animal. Thus, on the night he was betrayed, instead of eating the first covenant lamb, Jesus instituted the Eucharist by the words we hear during Mass, “take this all of you and eat it, for this is my body which will be given up for you … take this all of you and drink from it for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.” (Roman Missal, Eucharistic Prayer II)

St. John Paul II writes, “Jesus did not simply state what he was giving them to eat and drink was his body and his blood; he also expressed its sacrificial meaning and made sacramentally present his sacrifice which would soon be offered on the cross for the salvation of ALL” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 2003). “The power of the words and the action of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, make sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine Christ’s body and blood” was in the blood” (CCC#1353). This is the real presence.

By Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we are called to a worthy reception of his precious body and blood for the purpose of unity in God, with one another, and for protection, restoration, salvation and fortification. We are called to be present in order to receive the real presence. This is why Mass attendance is so crucial. For to pass up the Eucharist for whatever reason, is to pass up the very heart of our being: him. Without him, we die. Yet, “for in him we live and move and have our being …” (Acts 17:28).

I believe in the Holy Spirit

The Lord, the giver of life … “Through his grace, the Holy Spirit is the first to awaken faith in us and to communicate to us the new life, which is to “know the father and the one whom he has sent, Jesus Christ” (CCC #684). We know the Holy Spirit by the movement of the Holy Spirit. It is something “unseen” but rather enabled by “to do.” This movement readies us for intentional discipleship.

As God sends his son, the word, he also sends his breath, the Holy Spirit. Their mission is made manifest in Scripture, tradition, liturgy, prayer, ministries, mission and the saints (CCC #688). The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost enables the disciples, as well as the faithful here-present, to be living missionary disciples, united in a personal, intimate relationship with the Holy Trinity and strengthened by the Eucharist.

We once again read the Great Commission but this time taken from the Gospel of St. Matthew. Jesus gave the apostles the authority to preach, administer the sacraments and transmit the faith, assuring them by saying, “I am with you always.” We hear the same two words, as Moses’ experienced, “I AM.” In Hebrew it is “Emmanuel” which means God is with us. Let me repeat this line for the purpose of clarity, “GOD IS WITH US!” Truly, he is with us. The Holy Spirit prepares us for mission, to bring others to Christ, most substantially in the Eucharist, so we may “bear much fruit” (Jn 15:8) in order to build the kingdom of God.

And so we pray, “Glory be to the father, and to the son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Dow is the Director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.