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The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Rite of Reception)
February 16, 2020

 

    I was supposed to get a little reprieve from preaching this Sunday, but when I realized we were celebrating the Rite of Reception into full communion with the Church, I knew I wanted to say a few things about this celebration.

     First, this is kind of a big deal! It really is. It is Confirmation day and First Communion day for two wonderful people, Tawney and Igor who, for quite some time now, in different ways, have felt God calling them to claim their Catholic faith. They’ve done a good deal of seeking and searching, praying and learning, and this morning, right after the homily, they will join us in reciting the Nicene Creed, the Church’s great Profession of Faith. Following that, they will experience a powerful outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation and then, for the first time, they will be nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. So, this is a big deal – a very significant moment in their lives!

     I had the opportunity to spend an evening with them a week or two ago and they shared with each other and with me their stories of faith – how God has been working in their lives, calling them, awakening them, challenging them. Their stories were very moving – each one of them unique.  Hearing them was a reminder of the wondrous and surprising ways in which God works in all our lives, calls us forth, calls us to grow.  What a great privilege it is, then, to be able to welcome them into the full communion of the Catholic Church today and to celebrate with them the most sacred mysteries of our faith.  I say that for myself but I suspect that I am also saying it for all of you as well.
 
     In today’s reading from First Corinthians, St. Paul spoke of a “certain wisdom possessed by the spiritually mature.”  It is not, Paul said, “the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age.”  No, it is “God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden -- wisdom that God planned before the ages for our glory.”  It is this very wisdom of God that our friends here, about to be received into the Church, have found themselves attracted to and even, if I may say it, seduced by.  In wonderful ways that no one could have ever predicted, God has reached into their lives and awakened them to his presence, his love, his compassion, his truth, his surpassing beauty, awakened, them, too, to the presence of Christ in this great body of saints and sinners, the Catholic Church.  And thanks to the help of God’s grace they have responded. 

     They know, of course, that today is only a moment -- a holy and blessed moment but only a moment -- along their pilgrimage of faith.  They know that God, who has already worked wonders of grace in their lives is hardly finished doing so. They know that, in a sense, the great journey of faith is just beginning!   St. Paul expressed this so beautifully in that same reading when, quoting an ancient text, he said that “eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, nor has it so much as dawned on the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

     So, to our two friends, I would simply say this morning: look at what you have to look forward to!

     And we look forward to walking this journey of faith with you.  We do.  We are a community of believers who celebrate our belief even as we sometimes struggle to believe.  We gather here for prayer and worship each Sunday, not because we have to but because we want to and we need to. We need to give this time to God and to each other, and we do this as a community, not as a random bunch of individuals on our own personal walk with Christ.  We need each other and we need the rituals of our faith.  We need to be fed and challenged by the Word that is proclaimed and preached week here after week, and we need to be nourished by the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation in the Eucharist.  We need to pray together, to sing together, to celebrate together.  And we also need to go forth from this place to serve the poor, the hurting, the needy in the name of Christ.  All of this and so much more!

     My friends, Igor and Tawney, who are about to join this community in making the Profession of Faith, our community is going to be greatly enriched by your presence, your unique gifts, your witness. In the name of Jesus Christ we give thanks to God for you and we welcome you!

Father Michael G. Ryan

 

 

 

 

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804 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, Washington  98104
Phone 206.622.3559  Fax 206.622.5303