"The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.’” (Mt 28: 16-20)
The following is Bishop John Noonan’s homily during the Commissioned Lay Ecclesial Ministry Mass celebrated June 2 at St. James Cathedral in Orlando:
After much prayer and study we have come to ask you to become messengers of the faith. The word “commission,” connotes “to mission with.” You are being called to become missioners of the Gospel; a mission like no other in your life.
At the end of St. Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples to go out into the world to preach, to teach and to baptize. This message of Jesus is one of inclusion; one of forgiveness; and one of nonviolent cooperation – feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, visit those in prison and welcome the stranger. We are called to transform the world in word and deed. The world in which we live is a very complex one. There are many challenges, many difficulties, and many dangers. Yet, this is your mission to follow the command of Jesus Christ to go out into the world; not to just live, but to also transform the world with the message of Jesus Christ.
The Lay Ecclesial Ministry offers the ways and means of empowering you to go out and bring forth and pour upon the earth the sanctifying power of God. This is why you have been studying and praying these past years. Jesus says you are to be the light of the world. You have encountered the risen Christ in your life so let your light shine so that others may see and hear the goodness of the Lord.
You are to bring your faith-filled life into the great arena of the world; into your workplace, into your home. You are to become salt of the earth as Jesus said, so that you can preserve the presence of God not only in your lives, but also in the lives of others. Salt also destroys so that things do not grow again. You are to be prophets; courageous in eliminating elements that oppose the vision of God.
You are to live out your faith in the world. “Gaudium et Spes” states there cannot be a split between your faith and your work; the mentality that you check your faith at the door is among the serious errors of our age, especially among Catholics. Far too long we have accommodated everyone but neglected our own beliefs. You are messengers of the Gospel; therefore, you are called to know the Gospel and to live the Gospel in your daily lives.
Model the virtues of your faith so that you might put the word of God into action. This calls us into a radical new integration of our faith and our work, known as the “New Evangelization.” We are all called to do the best possible job while praying for our humble efforts of living out our faith in our daily lives.
The Holy Father challenges us to be people of true faith: “Your first, true and only task is to commit your lives to what is true and permanent, to what is really trustworthy, necessary and ultimate. We live for God, for whom we often unconsciously or tentatively search to give full meaning to your lives. We have the task of proclaiming him, showing him, of leading people to an encounter with him. But it is always important to remember that the first condition to speak about God is to speak with God, becoming more and more men of God nourished by an intense life of prayer and shaped by his grace.”
Reprinted with permission from the Florida Catholic, offical newspaper for the Dioceses of Orlando, Miami, Palm Beach and Venice.