By Fr. Vince Michael K. Sabal, SDB
03 June 2018 • DBTC Chapel
In my 11 years as a religious, I have been assigned to different places in the country. I met various kinds of people, with different languages, cultures, traditions, and way of life.
As a Salesian of Don Bosco, it is our mission to be with the young especially those who are poor and abandoned. Being with them makes me realize the core of our vocation: ‘to be signs and bearers of God’s love’.
My being with them is challenged to be rooted in God’s love. After some time of being assigned in a particular apostolate, we are moved to another assignment. These people with whom I was with usually give something in order to let me remember them.
Most of them share some words, pictures, things as tokens of their gratitude which would act as something for me to remember them with. I have also given some mementos to them so that when I depart, they can recall what I have shared with them and most importantly, to include me in their prayer.
Our Lord Jesus, before entering into his passion and death, also left us something to remember him with. This was done during the Last Supper with his apostles. Here he entered into an intimate meal with them as a parting act before entering into suffering.
He wanted to be remembered by his closest collaborators. He desired to leave them a memento of his love for them. “Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1 NAB).
During this meal our Lord left us three souvenirs:
- the Holy Eucharist;
- the ministerial priesthood; and
- a commandment of love.
The Eucharist is in the context of a meal. A meal is something that is shared by those who are in terms with one another. This is usually done by family and friends but never with enemies.
Jesus ate with his disciples as a sign of fellowship and friendship. The apostles were his close collaborators in preaching the Kingdom of God. They listened to him, learned from him, and stayed with him. This meal, which was to be his last before entering into his glory, was his act of love for them and, supposed to be, an assurance that they will be with him into whatever end.
The words he used in blessing the bread and the wine went like this: “do this in memory of me.” (Luke 22:19 NAB) Saint Paul, a great apostle, preached what he has received by saying, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26 NAB)
Therefore, every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we ‘bring into the present’ this act of our Lord Jesus himself on that blessed night with his apostles. When we hear the priests utter the words of consecration, we commemorate his act of love to his disciples.
How attentive am I in every Eucharistic celebration? Am I always aware of this reality that we celebrate during the Mass?
By virtue of our Baptism, we become part of the people of God. We share in Christ’s mission as priests, kings, and prophets. All of us are priests who are able to offer prayers and sacrifices to the Father through Christ our Lord. This is what we call as common priesthood.
Yet there are those who are endowed by God a vocation to minister to his people as shepherds. These are those who are ordained and are given the ministerial priesthood. They are given the Sacrament of Holy Orders in order to serve God’s people and to lead them to worship. Do I appreciate the ministry of the ordained ministers? Am I supporting them spiritually and in whatever way I can?
“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 NAB)
One of the mementos that our Lord left us especially during the Last Supper was a commandment of love. This is a requirement especially for us all who are followers and disciples of Christ.
Everyone will know that we are followers of Jesus if we truly love and serve one another. How will we be able to do this command of Jesus?
By ‘washing each other’s feet’. “You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13:13-15 NAB)
Let us take to mind and heart that every time we participate in the Holy Eucharist, these three mementos of our Lord is present. Eucharist (εὐχαριστία), in the Greek language means thankfulness or gratitude.
Every Eucharistic celebration is a rendering of thanks to the Father through the ‘remembrance’ that Jesus left us: ministerial priesthood and commandment of love.
Therefore it follows that worship goes out into service and service is an act of worship. If we keep these mementos of Jesus therefore we make Him present and alive in us. We are doing and living all these in memory of Him.
Editor’s note: It was only 10 days ago during the feast of Our Mother, Mary Help of Christians, on May 24, 2018 when Fr. Vince was ordained a Salesian priest at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.
He has been assigned to DBTC Cebu as the new Cathecist, and at the same time Pastoral Animator for Don Bosco Youth Center (DBYC) and Salesian Youth Movement (SYM), and in-charge of the DBTC Cebu Boarding House.