Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Living Out Our Eucharistic Mission

Through the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Catholics and friends of CCHD across the country help poor and low income Americans to help themselves and their communities out of poverty.

Since 1970, the Catholic Campaign has contributed over $280 million to more than 7,800 low-income–led, community-based projects that strengthen families, create jobs, build affordable housing, fight crime, and improve schools and neighborhoods. CCHD requires that projects develop community leadership and participation so that their solutions to poverty will be long-lasting and effective, and so that CCHD’s investment in people will help break the cycle of poverty. CCHD also educates Catholics about the causes of poverty and seeks to build solidarity between impoverished and affluent persons.

In the newsletter of the CCHD, Jill Rauh, a staff member of the Peace and Human Development Office of the USCCB, writes an article entitled Living Out Our Eucharistic Mission:
In the new edition of the Roman Missal that will be used in English-speaking parishes starting in late November, we will hear two new phrases that may be used at the Dismissal: “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord,” and “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”

For Catholics involved in the good work of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), these words will describe what many already experience: after gathering and being transformed, we are then sent out to announce the Gospel!

What does it mean to announce the Gospel? Luke 4:18 describes the work that is central to Jesus’ life and ministry, and that continues to inspire Christians: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, / because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. / He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives / and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, / and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

This is the same verse that CCHD often uses to describe its own mission for transformation of communities—communities where children are captive, oppressed, or burdened by weak education systems, unsafe neighborhoods, absent fathers, inadequate nutrition, and systemic racism. Announcing the Gospel involves spiritual transformation; it also involves addressing poverty, overcoming oppression, and working for social transformation.

Celebrating the Eucharist with spiritual sincerity transforms us individually and as members of a community called to bring love and hope to the person living in poverty, the stranger, the unborn—all those whose dignity is threatened. Participating in the eucharistic celebration also reminds us of the God-given dignity of all people; it inspires people who have been marginalized to reclaim their dignity and empowers them to fight poverty and injustice.

In Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that the “food of truth”—the Eucharist—“demands that we denounce inhumane situations” such as poverty, inequality, and violence (no. 90). The Eucharist also spurs us to imitate Christ’s sacrifice through our own “self-gift” to others (no. 14). But the idea that the Eucharist propels us to social mission is not new. In the fourth century, St. John Chrysostom reflected on Matthew 25:31-46: “Do you wish to honor the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked” (Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, 50:3-4: PG 58, 508-509), and St. Augustine urged us, “Become what you receive” (Sermon 272). More recently, Blessed John Paul II called the Eucharist “the school of active love for neighbor” (Dominicae Cenae, no. 6) and that which “increases, rather than lessens, our sense of responsibility for the world today” (Address, June 26, 2003).
The rest of the article is available here.

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