I had the great privilege of preaching today at Las Mercedes Cathedral in El Progresso, Honduras.
For those of you who do not know me, I am Deacon Rudy Villarreal of the Diocese of Austin and I am here with Friends of los Niños working with Sister Teresita at COPPROME. I am very happy to be here with you today.
All of the today’s readings speak about discipleship – a missionary discipleship sharing the gift, as St. Paul tells us in the second reading. What is the gift? The gift is the Good News of Jesus. So we have to share the Good News of Jesus. That is what Jesus tells us in the Gospel. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my Father.
This is not some story. Jesus is speaking to all of here and now. But how can we acknowledge Jesus if we are not disciples? We should all be disciples. What is a disciple? Three points. A disciple is someone who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. A disciple is someone who wants to learn more about Jesus. And a disciple is someone who shares the Good News with others. This third point, sharing the Good News, is what Pope Francis calls, “missionary discipleship.” We all have the responsibility to share the Good News, not just the priests, deacons, or consecrated religious brothers and sisters. All of us have the responsibility by virtue of our baptism.
What is the Good News? By the grace and love of God, salvation is offered to everyone through Jesus, who was born a man, who died and rose from the dead. Think about that. By the grace and love of God, salvation is offered to everyone through Jesus.
So then how can we share the Good News if we do not believe in Jesus? Jesus is not some theological idea. Jesus is a real person! Think about the Creed we recite. What sits at the right hand of God the Father is a human being just like you and just like me in every way except sin. Again. What sits at the right hand of God the Father is a human being just like you and just like me in every way except sin.
So it is possible to have a living relationship with Jesus. Pope Francis tells us that every Christian should have a living relationship with Jesus. How? Well, I am a deacon and the majority of all the deacons in the world are married. Before we were married, my wife and I dated. How do people who date behave? They want to everything about each other. They want to spend all their time together. They want to tell the whole world they are in love!
Right? It’s such a shame that some forget that after the wedding. Right? But at one time we couldn’t think about anything other than our girlfriend or boyfriend.
We can learn more about Jesus in a similar way. We can learn more about Jesus. Our Faith offers us many different opportunities to learn more about Jesus. I am sure there are many classes or prayer groups here where you can learn more about Jesus. If there are not any, then ask the pastor if you can help start something. We can spend time with Jesus during our daily prayers. No one needs to hear your prayers. We can say our prayers in private, but sincerely to Jesus. We can come to mass not just on Sunday, but during the week if possible. And we can spend time with Jesus in the adoration chapel. In reality there are many different ways to spend time with Jesus.
All of these ways help us to become better missionary disciples and to share the Good News. But is that an easy path? No! The Psalm tells us that, “For your sake I bear insult,” and the poor profit Jeremiah tell us that God, “test the just.” In reality the way of Jesus is difficult, but if we live our lives with our eyes fixed on the Kingdom of God, then all of our problems will not seem as important. Yes, we have problems and some of them are uglier than others, but our hope should always be in the Kingdom of God. So we should build a living relationship with Jesus, a missionary discipleship where we do not fear acknowledging Jesus before others, and we do not fear sharing the Good News. These are our goals. Right?
Good! Homework! If we want to grow our relationship with Jesus, then we must do homework. After receiving the Eucharist and returning to your seats, ask yourself:
- How is my relationship with Jesus?
- Then pray, Jesus, help me to know you better.
Got it? Get it? Are you going to do it? Good! Through the intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, may we come to know and to love Jesus. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. +Amen!