Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 8, 2020 – Year A
Readings: Is 2:1-5 / Ps 19 / Acts 11:19-26 / Mk 16:15-20
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon
The prayers and the readings that you’ve heard thus far are not from the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time. That’s because this weekend the Richmond Diocese celebrated a Eucharistic Congress to wrap up our year of bicentennial celebration.
You may not have heard of a Eucharistic Congress, but most of you are probably familiar with Eucharistic adoration. For years we’ve had it every week, sometimes twice a week, in our church. It’s a time to spend a holy hour (or longer) with the Lord in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. It’s a time of prayer; it’s a time of reflection; it’s a time to draw strength from the grace that is available through this Blessed Sacrament.
It may seem a little odd that the gospel you just heard may not have been what you expected. You may have thought that, since this is the weekend of a Eucharistic Congress, certainly the gospel would come from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John: “I am the bread of life.” But it didn’t.
As Father explained at the start of Mass, there are two primary themes from this Eucharistic Congress: communion and mission. Those themes become a little more obvious if we look at a few definitions.
Most of you are probably aware that the word “eucharist” means “thanksgiving.” But you may not be aware of the origins of the word “congress.” The primary definition of “congress” is “a gathering for discussion,” more or less.
The word “congress” actually comes from Latin, and it has two parts: The first, con, meaning “together,” and the second part, gradi, which means “to walk.” So the word “congress” means “walk together.” With that in mind, a Eucharistic Congress is a time to walk together in thanksgiving.
It helps to look at another definition, and that’s the definition of the word “catholic.”
“Catholic” comes from two words, and one of those parts is holos: “in respect of the whole.” That’s why the word “catholic” means “universal.”
Wrapping that all up together, a Eucharistic Congress is a time to walk together in thanksgiving, all together in communion. Because, brothers and sisters, the Church does not have a mission; the Church is a mission. And to be Catholic is to live your life in that mission: to live your life in the love of God and the love of neighbor, and to do the best we can to uphold the teachings of Holy Mother Church.
Our Church has a two-thousand-year history, unpacking the revelation of the Gospel. The Church has a set of social teachings that are generally grouped in seven parts: life and dignity of the human person; called to family, communion, and participation; rights and responsibilities; an option for the poor and vulnerable; the dignity of work and the rights of workers; solidarity; and the care for God’s creation.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we may not see that all the time. All of us struggle at times with living up to that lofty goal. We live in a time of great division, contrary to our goal of communion. I personally cannot remember a time of greater division than right now, on a local level, on a national level, on a world level.
But, brothers and sisters, don’t lose heart. There are over one billion of us throughout the world: one billion Catholics, tied together in thanksgiving to the Eucharist, the source and summit of our Faith.
We live in challenging times, where we all struggle, and the political divisions of our country are fresh in front of us. Both of our political choices fall short in this list given to us by Mother Church.
But imagine if every Catholic in the entire world spent an hour every week in front of the Blessed Sacrament, drawing grace and strength that is freely available. What if every Catholic, on receiving that grace, went out and shared it with the world? Brothers and sisters, if we would do that, if we would do like the disciples in the gospel today and go into the world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature, just think of the difference that we could make.