By Bishop John Corriveau, O.F.M. Cap.
The Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith made a simple, but profound statement concerning faith: “For the first Christian communities, communion was a constitutive element of the life of faith” (Prop. 41).
Faith in Jesus draws us into a deep and abiding relationship with God and a network of relationships with our neighbours which breaks all barriers: “He is our peace…and has broken down the dividing wall…so that he might create in himself one new humanity”
(Eph. 2: 14-15).
“One new humanity” is the work of Jesus. In the Gospel of John, after Judas has left the table of the Last Supper, Jesus declares: “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in Him” (Jn. 13: 31).
An ancient icon of the Church depicts Jesus rising to the Father holding Eve by one hand, Adam by the other. Jesus’ embrace of His brothers and sisters is inseparable from His embrace of the Father.
We recognize these two inseparable dimensions of faith—relationship with Jesus and transformed relationship with our brothers and sisters—at every celebration of the Eucharist. It is our custom that everyone approaches the Eucharistic Table at communion time. Children and those who are not in full communion receive a blessing while others partake of the Body and Blood of the Lord.
After the Communion Rite, we are sent into the world: “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life!” In the Gospel of John, after Jesus explains how he will glorify God, he tells us how we will radiate that glory: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just has I have loved you, you should also love one another” (Jn 13: 34). We see this in the Acts of the Apostles which states that people “even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he came by” (Acts 5: 15). Peter’s shadow radiated the glory of God, the other-centred love of the cross of Jesus.
The ministry of Pope Francis takes us back to this witness of Peter in the early Church. The simplicity of his presence, his radiant smile, washing feet including two women and two Muslims, embracing a handicapped man, tenderly kissing a child—Pope Francis has touched our world as the “shadow” of Peter touched his world. The example of Pope Francis teaches that we, too, can be like the “shadow” of Peter to the secular world around us.
Bishop John Corriveau, O.F.M. Cap.
Diocese of Nelson, British Columbia
Reprinted from Volume XI, Number 2, August 2013 issue of Catholic Mountain Star, Published by the Diocese of Nelson