Homily by Archbishop Thomas Wenski at Mass at the Conference of Catholic Facilities Managers Convention at Gesu Church. Tuesday, April 25, 2017.
Welcome to this beautiful Church in beautiful downtown Miami. Gesu is the oldest parish in greater Miami and since its founding it has been entrusted to the pastoral care of the Jesuit Fathers. I thank Father Eddy Alvarez and his parishioners for hosting us for this morning’s Mass.
Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Mark the evangelist – whom we credit with having given us the shortest gospel in the New Testament – its language is simple, its theology is accessible, and I often recommend to people that they try to reading it in one sitting. Try it sometime, you’ll find it a grace filled experience.
Our gospel verses today are at the conclusion of the gospel. And some scripture scholars argue that these verses were added after Mark had finished writing the gospel. So the gospel might have been even shorter. But in these verses, Jesus – as he is about to ascend into heaven - gives his disciples their marching orders.
“Go and preach the good news to every creature”. You might say that Jesus has enrolled us in God’s university of grace. And, Evangelization – preaching the good news to every creature – is not merely an elective; it is something that all of us must major in. This has also been called the Great Commission – and Jesus addresses himself to each of us.
As I said, Jesus gives us our marching orders. If you were a soldier, and you got orders to take that hill. You’d take that hill. As disciples, our orders are to preach the gospel. And so, if we wish to be considered disciples – we preach the gospel. To do so well though, we best pay heed to St. Peter in the first reading: “Clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another”. Or as St. Francis of Assisi used to tell his followers, preach the gospel always – and when necessary use words.
As Catholics, we belong to a Church – but, before she is anything else, the Church is a movement – a great movement of evangelization.
But this movement which is the Church has many institutional expressions. We have churches, schools, hospitals, clinics, food pantries, fellowship halls, and playgrounds, retreat centers, etc. When you look at this beautiful church in the heart of Miami’s downtown, a good argument can be made that our churches do assist in proclaiming the gospel just by being there.
Ultimately these structures exist to support the mission – and not visa versa. Of course, this is often easier said than done. We all know those stories about struggling congregations that don’t have any money left over for mission because it has all gone to maintenance. When you find yourself in a situation like that, you begin to think that all you’re doing is rearranging the furniture on the deck of the Titanic.
But, even if we concede the point that mission is more important than maintenance, the mission will not be advanced without all that you do in helping manage the “temporalities” of the Church in your home dioceses.
And so the work that you are about, the work of CCMB, is fundamentally about fulfilling that Great Commission to go and preach the good news.
You might remember the movie, the Shawshank Redemption. There was a line in that movie: Get busy living or get busy dying. If as a Church we’ve more concerned about maintenance than mission, then we might be busy – but we’re busy dying.
I think Jesus wants us to be busy living.