Reflections

Saturday of 29th Week of the Year, October 24, 2020

BUILDING COMMUNITY TOGETHER

—-Also Feast of St Anthony Mary Claret (Claretian Missionaries)
Introduction
Ephesians says today that each and all of us were given our gifts given for building up the body of Christ. To build community is our task, and each one is important, even though one’s role may seem secondary or of little account. Every part adds its own strength. Or do we as joints or parts contribute to the weakness of the whole?
We are sinners, deserving of punishment. But our God is a patient God, willing to give new chances.

Opening Prayer
Lord our God,
it is heartening for us to hear
that whether we are known
and influential in this world or not,
whether our talents are many or few,
we are all important to you
and you need us to build up
the body of your Son.
Thank you for this trust
and make us capable
of building unity and community
through the graces and gifts
with which you enrich us
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!

1 Reading: Ephesians 4:7-16
Brothers and sisters: Grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it says: He ascended on high and took prisoners captive; he gave gifts to men. What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended into the lower regions of the earth? The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole Body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the Body’s growth and builds itself up in love.

Responsorial Psalm PS 122:1-2, 3-4AB, 4CD-5
R. (1) Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

I rejoiced because they said to me,
“We will go up to the house of the LORD.”
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem. R.

Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD. R.

According to the decree for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
seats for the house of David. R.

Alleluia Ezekiel 33:11
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord,
but rather in his conversion that he may live.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Luke 13:1-9
Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them– do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’”

Commentary
Like any human body, the body of Christ is in the process of growth and development. Ours is not simply a static insertion into the whole Christ. Paul addresses this question in today’s first reading. Christ has ascended on high to give gifts to humanity. This means that he first descended in mortal flesh to dwell in our midst. But now, in his glorified state, he makes provision for the church endowing it with the various ministries. There are apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers whose function it is to build up the body of Christ to attain full Christian maturity. Thus we pass from a childlike immaturity, easily deceived and misled, to that fuller knowledge of Christ in love and truth. With every part of the body performing its proper function, there is an ongoing growth into full maturity.
We err indeed if we see ministry in the church identified only with the ordained. Paul never speaks of ministry in that way. There are a variety of ministries, all of which contribute to the building up of the one body. One of the beauties of the church since Vatican II has been a recapturing of that ministerial diversity. We see it on the altar during the liturgy, in the ministry to the sick and the homebound, to the bereaved at the time of death. All of this in conjunction with the more traditional ministry of education and formation.
The question is real for anyone of us today. What gift may I have to offer my church today? None of us excels in everything; each of us has some particular area of contribution. There is room for everyone. I must give it some thought and see where it may lead. The man in the Gospel showed patience in waiting for the fig tree to yield fruit. God is no less patient with us. But be productive, bear fruit, we must.

Intercessions
– That our local communities may be deeply aware that they are united in faith and love, in hope and service, with the pope and the worldwide Church, we pray:
– That in our Church and in our communities, we may accept one another in all our diversity as the one People of God, we pray:
– That each of us, in his and her place and role, may be deeply aware that each is accepted and needed for the good of the whole body of Christ, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
this community offers you
in this bread and wine
its desire to be one.
Let this meal unite us even more
and make us the visible sign
of the unity to which you call all your people
under the one head in the one body
of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!

Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
it is beautiful to be united here
beyond all our differences
in one faith and one love
around Jesus your Son.
Let the variety of our potentials
of heart and mind,
of our inclinations and functions,
even our deficiencies,
contribute to the growth in love
of the body of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!

Blessing
Like the parts in the body, we must all work beautifully and generously together to build up the body of the Church. If we fail to do this, the Church falls apart. But working together we can build up a strong Church, in which Christ is alive. May God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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