Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Actions that speak

Read I Corinthians 11:23-26

Actions speak. A rose given to a bereaved friend speaks of our sympathy. A candle-covered cake speaks of our joy in sharing someone’s birthday. A hug speaks of our tenderness for a child. Yes indeed, actions speak.

They also speak in the religious sphere. We kneel to express our devotion to God. We lower our heads as a sign of respect. We bow deeply to show humility. We gather with others to express the union of our hearts in a common faith. Actions speak in this realm also.

On the day of Pentecost, after having proclaimed the death and resurrection of Christ, Saint Peter was asked what should be done. He answered: “Be baptized.” Baptism is a ritual action in which we express our desire for conversion, for the love and forgiveness God offers us in Jesus. It is an action which speaks.

This is true of all the sacraments of the Church. Confirmation expresses our openness to the mission which God entrusts to his people. Marriage is a living sign of the love Jesus has for his Church. Anointing the sick speaks of the trust we have in God’s healing power. Reconciliation tells of our faith in God’s faithfulness to us, poor sinners. Ordination is a manifestation of Jesus leading his people as a good shepherd. All these actions speak with great power.

Of all the sacraments, the greatest is the Eucharist, which we also call Mass. Saint Paul clearly explains that this also is an action that speaks: “When you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 

The heart of the Gospel message is contained therein: Christ died for us and rose to give us life. The Apostles proclaimed this Good News everywhere they went. They never tired of repeating it, convinced as they were that God wanted to show mercy to all people.

As they evangelized, the Apostles did not restrain themselves to words. They also used an action, the same action that Jesus himself gave them as a memorial ritual the night before he died: taking bread and wine, giving thanks, sharing, eating and drinking. “Do this in memory of me,” Jesus said. And each time we respond to Jesus’ invitation, we proclaim to the world that he is the Messiah of God, the Saviour of the world, the Lord of the universe.

« Let us love, not only in words but in actions, » says Saint John in one of his letters. This is certainly true of our love for our brothers and sisters. It is also true of our love for God. Let us not only express our love for God in our prayer, let us also proclaim it by gathering to celebrate the Eucharist. For this action speaks even louder than words.

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