“To follow Jesus faithfully …we have to be willing to accept the costs and risks that are so much a part of discipleship.”
— Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller
The second annual commissioning Mass for Pastoral Ministries ambassadors, which featured a blessing for these 600-plus archdiocesan volunteers, was held July 8 at the Church of the Holy Spirit, with Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, celebrating the liturgy.
“We live in an age of intense secularism, exaggerated individualism, and a preoccupation with science and technology,” the archbishop told listeners. “We also find ourselves in a time of rapid change, shifting political tectonic plates, and polarization — even within the church.”
Archbishop Gustavo discussed how the readings from the Mass bring the faithful back to the bedrock of the Christian life.
St. Paul, in Roman 12:1-13, stated: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may judge what is God’s will, what is good, pleasing, and perfect.”
“St. Paul’s letters show us how much Paul himself had to change his own accustomed ways of thinking and acting in order to carry out God’s will, to fulfill his God-given mission. Paul faced much opposition from his own people. He also stirred up much controversy among the Gentiles because of his fidelity to his mission,” the archbishop explained. “Paul writes that his sufferings for the sake of the gospel united him more closely with Jesus — the crucified and risen Lord. Paul also reminds us that each of us shares responsibility for building up the body of Christ, enabling the church to carry out its mission and ministry. Each of us has an important role to play.”
In the Gospel reading from Matthew 16:24-27, when Jesus had asked his disciples who they say he was, Peter immediately replied “the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” and Jesus praised him for this.
“But then when Jesus explained that they were going to Jerusalem where he would undergo passion, death, and resurrection, Peter strongly dissented,” Archbishop Gustavo continued. “In the popular mind at the time, the Messiah would inflict suffering and death upon Israel’s enemies and the wicked within Israel — not suffer himself!”
Jesus scolds Peter and adds: “If someone wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross, and begin to follow in my footsteps.”
In other words, said the Missionary of the Holy Spirit, the Cross was not only to be a part of Jesus’ life, but that of his disciples as well. “Poor Peter!” smiled the San Antonio prelate. “He had not really begun to follow the Lord on the path that God has chosen for his beloved Son. To follow Jesus faithfully —- holding nothing back — we have to be willing to accept the costs and risks that are so much a part of discipleship.”
The Alamo city ordinary thanked the ambassadors and challenged them to be holy. “We need to show others by our example and actions more than our mere words what it means to follow in Jesus’ footsteps,” he concluded. “Let us walk together with Jesus wherever he leads us!”