“What can I really do in the face of so much sin, evil, and apathy? I can remain in Him.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about our mission these last few weeks, as evident from my recent posts here at Integrated Catholic Life. As baptized and confirmed Catholics, we are called to bear witness to Christ. We have been charged with spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth (which probably means our coworkers and in-laws more than someone on the other side of the globe). We share in the great mission given to the Apostles.
In our readings over the last few Sundays, we have a glimpse of how that is possible. Christ promised His disciples at the Last Supper that He wasn’t going to leave them to their own resources (thank goodness). If you read over the Last Supper discourse in the Gospel of John, you’ll find it full of heavy responsibility but also great promises. He tells them to love one another as He loves them, to lay down their lives, to do what He commands. But He also assures the Apostles that they will do great works, that He will not leave them orphans, and that He will send the Holy Spirit.
If all this mission stuff sounds daunting, there’s consolation. It’s all possible…. if we remain in Him.
“Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:4-5).
But questions still linger. How is this possible? What does it mean to “remain” in Him?
Pentecost Sunday revealed our mission. Holy Trinity Sunday revealed that the mission is ultimately the mission of the Trinity. This Sunday, the feast of Corpus Christi, reveals how it’s all possible. We must remain in Him. Back in John 6, He told us what that meant. “Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (Jn 6:53-56)
There’s the answer. How do we bear much fruit? We remain in Him. How do we remain in Him? The Eucharist.
Communion isn’t just the word we use for approaching the altar and receiving Jesus at Mass. Holy Communion is something we enter into: communion with the Most Holy Trinity. Receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ into our own bodies is entering into communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – the love of God that was proclaimed last Sunday at Trinity Sunday. God is a relationship within Himself, and He invites us into that relationship. When the disciples at Emmaus begged Jesus to stay with them, He did: in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is how the Trinity remains with us and empowers us for the mission.
Is our mission daunting? Of course it is. Secularism seems to be an unstoppable wave in our culture, the scandals in the Church have compromised our ability to preach the Truth, and at times it seems that we might as well give up. Perhaps I should just worry about my own soul and salvation. Maybe I should leave the rest of the world to figure things out. What can I really do in the face of so much sin, evil, and apathy?
I can remain in Him. I can: center my week around Sunday Mass, attend Mass on other days of the week, stop into a chapel on my way home from work or while running errands, make spiritual communions, and make holy hours in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament. Our mission requires things like teaching and defending the faith, raising our kids in the faith, living out our vocations faithfully and fruitfully… but none of that is possible without a prayer life rooted in the Eucharist.
This Sunday’s feast reminds us how this mission of the Church is possible. It won’t be easy. After all, He promised us pruning and persecution in the same breath as He promised us joy and that He wouldn’t leave us orphans! But it’s not impossible, either… provided we remember that He’s the vine. Before we start writing our ten-point plans for saving the Church and the world, we must step back and remember it is only possible with Him. Everything and anything that we do must be rooted in the Eucharist and lead back to the Eucharist. To the world, sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament might seem like a passive activity. But we know – there’s more power there than a nuclear explosion. Remain in Him.
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