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(Part 49)


June 3, 2012
Mass with Pope Benedict XVI at World Meeting of Families, Milan

Today’s readings:
Deuteronomy 4:32-34,39-40
Psalm 33:4-22
Romans 8:14-17
Matthew 28:16-20

On this great event, with the Holy Father celebrating the Eucharist with pilgrims from all over the world, the Lord affirms His call to our life and mission.

The Mass was mainly in Italian, with occasional readings/responses in English, Spanish, French, German and Portuguese. Of the 4 prayers of the faithful, one was in English, and it was this: “That their service to society may be animated by the respect for the rights of the family and by the defense of life from its beginning to its natural end.” That is about renewing the family and defending life.

The Mass readings also reinforced God’s constant call to us.

We start with Psalm 33, which affirms God’s words and direction to us from the start of the crisis in 2007 through the restoration.

  • 2007 (theme of hope) - “May your kindness, Lord, be upon us; we have put our hope in you.” (Ps 33:22).
  • 2008 (theme of joy) - “For in God our hearts rejoice” (Ps 33:21a).
  • 2009 (theme of trust) - “in your holy name we trust.” (Ps 33:21b).
  • 2010 (theme of the just and righteous Almighty; awe of God) - “The Lord loves justice and right” (Ps 33:5a).” “By the Lord’s word the heavens were made” (Ps 33:6a). “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all who dwell in the world show reverence.” (Ps 33:8).
  • 2011 (theme of strength in God) - “Our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and shield.” (Ps 33:20).

Now our theme is “Choose Life” from the book of Deuteronomy. We choose life by obeying God’s commandments. We choose life so that we and our descendants may live. This is what Moses told the Israelites: “This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other.” (Dt 4:39). In other words, choose God! How? “You must keep his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you today” (Dt 4:40a). What will be the result? “that you and your children after you may prosper, and that you may have long life on the land” (Dt 4:40b). Choose God. Choose life.

As we obey God and do His will, we can expect to suffer. In 2007 God taught us the lessons of Lamentations. In 2010 God taught us the lessons of Job. In between, God taught us to rejoice always and trust in Him, no matter what, and especially in the midst of suffering, persecution and pain. We “did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear” (Rom 8:15a). We are children of God who are led by the Spirit of God (Rom 8:14). As such, and as we do God’s work, we will “suffer with him” (Rom 8:17b). We walk the path of Christ and that path leads right to the cross. But as we embrace the cross and endure, then “we may also be glorified with him.” (Rom 8:17c). Death leads to life. Defeat turns into victory.

What is God’s purpose in all these? Well, it is as it was from the very start. We are called to be evangelizers and missionaries. We are called to proclaim God’s good news of salvation to the whole world. We have been given the Great Commission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19a). This is our reason for being.

Our work is the work of evangelization, founded on the renewal of the family and the defense of life. These three--faith, family and life (FFL) are the most important aspects of mission in this third millennium.

The Church, through this Eucharist celebrated by the Holy Father at the World Meeting of Families in Milan, has in effect reiterated and reinforced our mission. Let us respond with all our hearts and strength. Let us truly choose the life that God has given to us from the very beginning.

And in the inevitable times of suffering and pain, let us always remember Jesus’ assurance to us: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28:20b).

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