Always in Need of Rescue!
Well, He did it yet again! I just finished my third season of The Rescue Project here at St. John, acting as a table leader along with my husband as a table helper to our group of seven, and the Lord continues to teach and guide through it! It’s a series that “keeps on giving,” and no wonder as we consider that our God in his truth, beauty, and goodness is, as St. Augustine says, “ever-ancient, ever-new!”
On the last night of The Rescue Project season, our parish was blessed by a visit from Fr. John Riccardo and some of the ACTS XXIX team to present the final session of The Rescue Project. (Many of you may recall the “Created, Captured, Rescued, Response” summary of the kerygma that Fr. Chas and Fr. Brian presented a few Advent seasons ago in a homily series.)
Fr. Riccardo’s presentation on “Response,” the final topic of Rescue, helps us take a look at this question:
** “What is our response to the life-changing news of the Gospel message (the kerygma)?”
To clarify, this is not just a response in terms of a mental or verbal answer, but an actionable response, a movement or desire to act, both internally and externally. What will I do and how will I act because I am “rescued?” I loved this shared “take-away” from one of the participants at the end of that evening: “Let’s sabotage & resist the enemy’s tactics! Let’s bring God’s radical love to the lost, the wounded, and the forgotten.” This response so beautifully ties in the internal and external callings, reminding us that our response is meant to be about both ourselves, personally, and about the world.
In order for us to respond well and most fruitfully to that first question about response, though, we must grapple with and come to know the answers to these two statements:
**”God became a man in order to _________.”
**”Jesus sends us into the world to _____________.”
As Fr. John explained, “We must have clarity on mission”…God’s and ours! And mission is what each Mass renews in us, calls us to, with the priest’s last words: (in Latin) “Ite, Missa Est.” In English, “She is sent,” or, in other words, we, the Church, the Body of Christ, are sent into the world.
Our response is, hopefully, ever-changing, drawing us closer and closer in relationship with the Lord! As Fr. John explained, in our spiritual life it’s not that we move from point A to point B; it’s more that when we surrender further, allowing the Holy Spirit to “burrow deeper,” we become more and more united with Christ and what he wants to do in us (root out sin and help us grow in holiness) and what he wants us to do for the world around us (in Fr. John’s words, “To virtuously take whatever Satan has bent and to bend it back”). No small mission, but the Lord equips us for each battle, providing His Word and Food, and graces and gifts, for the journey, asking us to offer ourselves in turn for “what is lacking in [His] afflictions” (see Colossians 1:24)….as there is nothing lacking in Christ’s suffering but our acceptance to participate, uniting our suffering to his.
When it comes right down to it, were any of these ideas “new” to me after helping with three seasons of The Rescue Project (or, for that matter, as a “cradle Catholic”)? Mentally, I’d have to say “no”; I believe the head knowledge was there at some level of understanding, even if I sometimes failed to be cognizant of it. But my heart-knowledge grew yet again! I know it was true because I could literally “feel” it. My conviction grew, and I “re-committed” yet again!
The truth, beauty, and goodness of the Lord’s plan for salvation and his deep LOVE for us truly does “burrow” deeper and deeper each time we approach him with surrender and desire to unite with him, each time we engage with him and marvel at and praise our Creator.
As we head toward the Advent and Christmas seasons when we reflect on Jesus’ entrance into the world on his “rescue mission,” ask him to reveal to you why he became man and how he desires to send you into the world, joining in his mission.
Leaving you with some final words to ponder from The Rescue team…
“Rescued people rescue people!”
P.S. – We are tentatively planning our next RESCUE season for April, during the Easter season. Plan to join us and pray about who you might invite to learn more about the Gospel message! Like our God, The Rescue Project is ever-ancient, ever-new! And we would love to see you there!