Today is the conclusion of the “bread of life” discourse from the Gospel of John. We have been hearing this discourse for the past four Sundays. Today’s reading focuses on the responses of different people to Jesus’ proclamation: that He is the true bread come down from heaven; that he gives his flesh for the life of the world; that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood will never die. Overall, the people were not impressed. Their responses include grumbling, disbelief, rejection, and betrayal. The Twelve however, in the name of Peter make a confession of faith to Jesus and remain committed to following him. It wasn’t until after the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus that his followers begin to grasp the kind of intimacy with God that Jesus offers through the Eucharist. At the Last Supper, Jesus leaves us his legacy. “Do this in memory of me.” How do we listen to Jesus’ challenge? We often limit our thinking so that “Do this” only references the blessing, breaking, giving and sharing of the bread. Jesus calls us to more. What if we interpret “do this” as “Do my whole life” – healing, forgiving, including outsiders, challenging wrongful authority, taking time to go away and pray, serving others by washing feet – so that it is we who are blessed and broken open so that we can give and share of ourselves to feed the world? Jesus still patiently waits for us to grasp the power he left within us. When we act in loving ways we are using that power, the power of the Holy Spirit. In my article last week, I shared with you that in the “bread of life” discourse, Jesus gave us a model for evangelization. I informed you that we are in the preparation phase to feed both body and spirit of those who hunger for God, for love, for acceptance, for meaning by undertaking the Alpha initiative. Our Lady of Mercy is preparing to be a new force of evangelization to Catholics, non-Catholics, non-believers, the lost, the lonely, the abandoned not only in our parish, but in our local community. All will be welcomed here!!
In the year and two months that Fr. Mark and I have been here, many have remarked to us of a re-vitalized energy and enthusiasm within the parish. Praise God for the Spirit working and moving among our parishioners! We have identified two areas that we realize we can’t do alone. Evangelization and Communications. A unique opportunity has arisen to hire an individual that can assist us – and you – become evangelizers and communicators. I am pleased to inform you that I have hired parishioner Zara Tan as Director of Evangelization and Communications. Zara has already been volunteering in the development of the new parish website and APP, as well as leading adult faith formation programs. Zara graduated two years ago from the Lay Leadership Program at Mundelein and has a burning desire to reach those who don’t yet know Jesus and our Catholic Faith. Zara will begin her position on September 3rd. Please welcome her to our staff!