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Universal Is Our Church

First Reading: Zecheriah 12:10-11; 13:1

Thus says the LORD:
I will pour out on the house of David
and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem
a spirit of grace and petition;
and they shall look on him whom they have pierced,
and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son,
and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a firstborn.

On that day the mourning in Jerusalem shall be as great
as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo.

On that day there shall be open to the house of David
and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

R. (2b) My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus will I bless you while I live;
lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
You are my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.
My soul clings fast to you;
your right hand upholds me.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Second Reading: Galatians 3:26-29

Brothers and sisters:
Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither slave nor free person,
there is not male and female;
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
And if you belong to Christ,
then you are Abraham’s children,
heirs according to the promise.

Gospel: Luke 9:18-24

Once when Jesus was praying by himself,
and the disciples were with him,
he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
They said in reply, “John the Baptist;
others, Elijah;
still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’”
Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”
He scolded them
and directed them not to tell this to anyone.

He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

Then he said to all,
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

NAB

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“[T]he Church is the Church of all peoples, and so she speaks in the various cultures of the different continents. She is the Church of Pentecost: amid the polyphony of the various voices, she raises a single harmonious song to the living God.” -Pope Benedict XVI

I have had the occasion twice to attend World Youth Day—Rome in 2000, Toronto in 2002. I have also twice walked a three-day pilgrimage across northern France with groups from various countries all over the world.

In settings such as these, the universality of the Church really hits home.

“. . . [N]either Jew nor Greek . . . neither slave nor free . . . not male or female . . . you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Nationality, status, age…these all seem to slip away as we stand before our Savior in praise and thanksgiving, prayer and petition. “Through faith [we] are all children of God in Christ Jesus.”

We speak to Him with different tongues. We give praise through a variety of cultural expressions. The tones of our skin are an array of colors. But we are all together sons and daughters of Our Lord. Each one of us equally stands before the Father as His child. We are all brothers and sisters united in our Lord.

And those not yet baptized in the Faith? They, too, belong to Him.

As Saint Josemaria Escriva reminds us: “By seeing ourselves as part of the Church and united to our brothers and sisters in the faith, we understand more deeply that we are brothers and sisters of all mankind, for the Church has been sent to all peoples of the earth.”

This is not an exclusive club. Jesus came to save every man that ever lived, is alive today, or will live in the future.

Let us be aware of this vital mission: Catholic does not simply refer to the universality of those already baptized in His Name, but the universal mission of the Church to bring all humanity to Him. Let us be the voice of Christ, in deed and word, to our brothers and sisters who do not yet know Him as we know Him. For He desires a relationship with every person . . . and perhaps you are that person to introduce them to each other.

In the quiet of your heart, speak to God about ways in which you can better live out this universal mission of the Church that we are all called to.

photo credit

Laurel Muff is a creator and appreciator of beautiful things. She resides with her husband and daughters in Northern California. You can find more about her here.

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