by Nancy R. Catan, BCBP Manila
We have just experienced another season of Lent where we fasted from the negative and feasted on the positive. We spent the period getting ready for the glory of the Lord in the celebration of Easter, and have joyously celebrated His Resurrection. We are preparing ourselves in anticipation for the coming of the Holy Spirit during Eastertide and Pentecost, and the celebratory feast of Corpus Christi. All of these holy events challenge us to live in the fullness of life in Christ, to live as Easter people.
This was God’s vision for mankind from the beginning when in Gen. 1:26-27 He declares what we ought to be “as creatures made to His Image and likeness”. His vision embraces an entire catechesis on the gift of life, its fullness, its process and one’s final destiny. God envisions us as His people, as Easter people. This is the vision that we celebrate this and every Eastertide.
In the BCBP we, too, have this vision – fullness of life in Christ through our striving to make Jesus known in the marketplace. Why do we need a vision? Life is a journey, not just to travel from place to place, from situation to situation, but to arrive at a certain place or a state of being. To do this we need a vision or roadmap – and what better vision than one set out by God the Father, our Creator, in the first place.
What are the qualifications of a good vision? A good vision must be rooted in the Word of God. It must give direction and answers to these questions: What do I want to be? Where do I need to go? What do I want to do, and how am I going to do it? Who will go with me? It must not only address the present but provide permanency and focus for the future. A good vision validates our desire to do the right, to love goodness, and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). A good vision inspires us to work out our mission. A good vision must also be shared. A good vision is the definitive roadmap for our journey through life.
The Vision and Mission of the BCBP help us bring a practical dimension to this vision of God as articulated by Jesus Christ in John 10:10. As BCBP members, we live, work and serve God in community. We bring Christ into our respective marketplaces and bring our workplaces to Him. We experience God’s love and care in our Action Groups, assemblies, breakfasts, and all other activities. We share this love through our various reach-out programs and our concern for those in need.
The Christian community is a community of life and love, a communion of persons, united with the divine bonds of the Holy Trinity. Everyone wants to live life to its fullest possible – a life with meaning, a life filled with usefulness, a life of continuing growth and development, a life of fruitfulness in the Lord’s vineyard. And it is in community that this is best realized.
What can keep us from walking the journey of life with Christ? We can be enslaved by ignorance, poverty, sickness, unjust and selfish attitudes, and worldly values. Ignorance is the first tyranny against humans and can be addressed by education and enlightenment in the Christian faith. Poverty oppresses and challenges our Christianity; it is alleviated through honest livelihood, compassion and the sharing of resources. Sickness may not be only physical in nature, but can also be caused by human carelessness, dirty surroundings, unhealthy habits and lack of personal discipline. Selfish attitudes impede true development and have no religion except the worship of self. Greed respects no one, it destroys relationships, life and even God’s gifts of nature. Education, proper formation of the heart and purification of values help correct these kinds of human imprisonment.
We can also be enslaved by our busy-ness, by our overdedication to the present concerns in our life that redirect our focus from God back to the mundane, persistent and often chaotic anxieties of everyday life. Our life values become distorted by aggressive consumerism, rapid technological advances that leave us breathless as we try to keep abreast of what’s new, and loss of being able to put godly order into our life.
God wants us close to him, He wants us to love and serve Him in fullness of life. The wonderful part of this is that He has given us His only Son, Jesus Christ, as our Lord and Savior, who saves us from sin by forgiving us, through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. This is the Way of passing over from slavery to freedom, from sin to virtue, or sin to new life. This is what we are encouraged to experience throughout the year, throughout our life.
But God has gone even further in His desire that all men come to him and worship him. Through Jesus Christ He has given us the Sacrament of the Eucharist, making Jesus available to us to help us with our struggles to live out the abundant, fruitful and meaningful life He has promised us. In the sacraments and in the consecrated Host Our Lord is truly present in us and among us. Each reception of the Holy Eucharist during the mass, each time we participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation brings an increase of sanctifying grace in the soul, to the degree that the recipient has emptied his/her soul of sin and worldly desires.
It is this sanctifying grace that brings God’s vision of fullness of life in Christ to an illuminating reality in us and enables us to better follow Jesus’ Way in the BCBP Community. That is why every BCBP member is encouraged to participate actively and as frequently as possible in the Sacramental Life of the Church, especially in the Holy Mass, receiving the Eucharist, as an integral part of his/her continuing spiritual formation. This is specified in our BCBP Commitment Card, in the commitment we solemnly make when we become full members of the BCBP.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian Life, central to the realization and living of the fullness of life in Christ. Many are the Eucharistic miracles that have taken place throughout the world, especially in the lives of the saints. But we only know of those that have been written down. Many more are the Eucharistic miracles occurring around us, in the lives of our BCBP brothers and sisters. We see these miracles in the transformation of their lives, in the deepening of their faith, in the fire of their desire to serve God, in the sharings during BCBP breakfasts. We see such miracles in our own lives too – big miracles and small miracles, visible manifestations of God’s divine grace flowing into our lives to help us experience the fullness of life in Christ that is God’s plan for each of us.
This is one of the graces that Easter brings – a clear message of the glory of the Lord, brought to us and made available to us personally whenever we receive the Eucharist, the Real Presence of Jesus, during the Mass. Vatican II emphasizes the Eucharist as “action”, as a Christian family/community ritual, something that we can do together. It is the connection between the spiritual dimension of our faith and the realistic dimension of life in the everyday world – spiritual in that the Eucharist is the Real Presence of Jesus, realistic in that it comes to us in community not just to worship but to eat the sacrificial meal together.
Easter reminds us of the many ways that God is fulfilling his promises to us. His Word never returns to Him empty. Our lives also should never return to Him empty. God challenges us daily to walk with Jesus, to live out our life as Easter people.
Jesus has promised us, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” Fullness of life in Christ is a life full of God’s promises and mercy, full of His abundant grace, and full of the divine enlightenment of Christmas, Lent, and Easter. Living in the BCBP community encourages and enables us to claim God’s promises and see them come alive in our lives. And as we journey together with Him, we become, step by step, His very own Easter people.