4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 3, 2019
4pm at Saint Mary Parish, Pylesville (did not preach here)
11am at Saint Matthew Parish, Baltimore
The Big Gap
This past week, I read an article that really got my attention.
The author points out that in the Creed that we recite here at Mass, we profess our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. At one point, we say this: “By the Holy Spirit [he] was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”
And then immediately: “For our sake he suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and died.” So, we jump from the birth to the death of Jesus.
There is no mention of anything in-between. The article that I was reading calls this the Big Gap.
There is no mention in our Creed of Jesus’ teaching on love, service, caring for the least among us, and on it goes. The author asks: Don’t we also have to profess our faith in what Jesus teaches us to do – in how we are to live?
I think this is an excellent point.
A Vision Statement
I wonder if we might call the Creed our vision statement.
It is the vision of who God is and what God has done for us. Many groups and organizations have a fairly brief vision statement about who they are.
But they also have a longer mission statement about what they are to do. So, for us, our mission statement is how Jesus calls us to live on this earth.
Our mission statement is the Scripture and especially the gospel. I believe we also need to profess our faith in this.
A Mission Statement
Let’s take a look at our first reading today to get just one idea of our mission or what’s in our mission statement.
God speaks to the prophet Jeremiah. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.”
They are beautiful, personal words. And they have some real messages for our mission.
For starters, we are to see not just Jeremiah, but each baby in the womb as already known by God, as special and sacred. This means that we are to respect and value the life of the unborn.
And beyond that, God says to Jeremiah that he has already dedicated him for something. From even before birth, God has a role or mission in mind for him – and for us.
This means that the life of each child and teen and young adult and middle-aged adult and senior adult and elderly adult is also special and sacred. God has dedicated each of us for something and we need to respect and value others with this in mind.
Lately, I have been thinking about the expression “Whole Life” – spelled W-H-O-L-E. I wonder if this term is better at expressing the mission God gives us – our mission statement.
My thought is that the whole life of the whole of humanity is special and sacred. So, the way we speak to and encourage, the way we guide and provide for those in our personal lives is very important.
And then, our support for programs that encourage expectant mothers and couples to bring their child to full term is important. Our approach to affordable health care for everyone, to today’s immigrants, to those who are disabled, and to all minorities is important.
All of these things and others are part of a Whole Life ethic. Our mission is to treat all persons at all stages of life as special and sacred.
This is a very central and significant part of the mission statement that Jesus gives us.
So, here is what I recommend. In just a minute, we will pray our Creed together.
I am recommending that today, we pause at the Big Gap. So, right after we profess our faith in Jesus’ birth, let’s stop for a moment.
And there, let’s silently profess our faith in the Scripture as our mission statement and in the mission God has given each of us. Let’s make sure that we are also professing our faith in how God calls us to live on this earth.