As a bishop, I’m often reminded of the element of Apostolic Succession. Indeed, the bishops play a critical role in protecting, nourishing, preaching and handing on the faith. But there is also the critical role played by those to whom the faith is preached. Just as down through the centuries, bishops have passed on their role through the laying on of hands, so have the lay faithful have received, nourished, and passed on the faith from generation to generation.
It is the faithful who have received the Word of God into their own hearts and homes. It is the faithful who chose generation after generation to receive the sacrament of Holy Matrimony; to have their children baptized in the faith and properly prepared and formed in the faith to receive Eucharist, Reconciliation, and Confirmation.
These faithful are the ones who have carved out a space for the faith in the various cultures of the world and fought for the freedom to express and live their faith. These are the very individuals through their own sweat and blood, sacrifice and good will, have built the many beautiful churchs we have for worship today. These are the ones who through their own generosity built the schools that are the backbone of the wonderful Catholic education system we enjoy today.
All of us are called to know Christ, to recognize Him as the True Vine, and seek to remain attached to Him, asking Him to remain in us, that we might bear good fruit. Sunday’s Gospel reminded us once again, as did our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, that a true life is a life built upon the Solid Rock, Jesus Christ. Our path to God’s Kingdom follows the Father’s will.
Knowing this will of God can be a bit mysterious at times, but the broad strokes are easy to know and understand, and are rooted in the Commandments. It is God’s will that we first of all know and love God. We know we are to love and respect one another. We know that we are to look out for the less fortunate of this world, and do all we can to ease their burdens. We know that we are to refrain from any and all things that would harm another person. We know that we are to pass on the faith that is freely given to us.
In short, we know we are to make a gift of our life to God and to others. If we commit to these broad strokes of God’s will for us, the more personal vocation for each person comes clearly into view, and the grace to accomplish it is always generously granted. Thus, will each life bear much fruit, and know the joy of entering God’s Kingdom.
Faith: Pass it on!