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from fathers desk

Fellow Members of the Body of Christ,

Do you remember that famous line from The Blues Brothers: “We are on a mission from God!” This sense of mission gave Dan Akyroyd and John Belushi (Jake & Elwood) great confidence that they would succeed in raising the necessary funds to save the Catholic orphanage from closing. Never could a nun be called “the penguin” with such affection!

Jesus our Lord is the original missionary, the original one sent from the Father to accomplish not his own will but the will of the one who sent him. This word “mission” comes from the Latin for “to send.” The Prologue of John’s Gospel depicts how the Son is eternal with God and yet sent from God to pitch his tent among us. John’s account depicts this Christological truth, the clearest statement perhaps being: “I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me” (Jn 6:38). Other verses and nuances from Johannine literature and elsewhere support the case.

Today we hear from one of the Synoptic Gospels, Luke. (Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels since generally they share “one view.”) In these Gospels, the moment of Jesus’ Baptism shines in a particularly clear way. In that moment, Jesus is revealed as the beloved of the Father. Much like how our own baptisms inaugurate the spiritual life in us, we observe the Baptism of Jesus as the inauguration of his public ministry. No longer is Jesus hidden among us, but from that moment the public ministry begins.

The mission of Jesus is complex. The heart of his mission leads to his death on the cross as the savior of the world. Not only is salvation personal, it is also corporate. The method he employs to draw all things to himself (Jn 12:32) is incorporation into Him, union with Christ, and membership in the Body of Christ. The Bible shares several analogous ways to understand this mystical reality. Paul coined the phrase “Body of Christ” (see: 1 Cor 12:12; Eph 4:12) in order to describe the relationship between Christ and his Church. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be seeking to understand that reality more profoundly.

The reason behind that pursuit is our mission statement. For more than a year, our leadership team and pastoral council have been praying and discerning how best to describe our mission. To encapsulate in a phrase what we are about here at OLPH, our raison d’etre, the purpose of our existence. The mission is “the why.” Why was Jesus sent from the Father? Why do we as a parish family exist? At the heart of that answer, we exist to be united to Christ and to build up the Body of Christ. We exist to spread the Gospel. We exist to share the good news of the hope that lies within us. Yet, it can be easy to lose sight of that purpose. As your pastor, I am afraid we did. The last mission statement dated from 1991 and was unknown and unlived. Now beginning in 2022, we shall strive to live by the discerned mission statement: “Building up the Body of Christ.” I am excited to share that good news with you. I would love for you to share in my excitement and embrace the mission. We can each ask ourselves: how can I build up the Body of Christ, in our little corner of the world? How can we grow, spread, rekindle love for God and neighbor in our community? These are the big questions and I look forward to setting out on this journey with you.

We have been given a mission from God, and that is to build up the Body of Christ, that all may know, love, and live for Jesus.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Joel