Living Our Mission

September 12 Issue of the Holy Trinity Bulletin

Rev. William C. Woody, S.J.

My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Over the past few weeks, the Letter of James has shared some blunt words with us, exhorting us to a faith that does justice and to manifest a living faith through works and deeds. Our faith must be enlivened by love, and such a faith shines forth in the way we live our lives. Mere words do not suffice – as St. Ignatius of Loyola reminds us, “love ought to show itself in deeds over and above words” (Spiritual Exercises §230). This Sunday that exhortation culminates with the declaration: “faith…if it does not have works, is dead! Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.” Quite the challenge to live up to (and out of ) our faith with integrity!

And yet these good deeds are not just a choice to do good or to live by someabstract code of ethics. No – rather, our actions are the consequences of aliving faith, of a relationship that is rooted and grounded in love for Christ. Our good deeds flow forth from that primary relationship with God – they are a consequence of our love for God, not a precondition for it.

Our Sunday Gospel reading makes this point clear, as Jesus asks of his closest companions and disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” It is in companionship and love of Jesus that our faith is born, that our knowledge of God is nourished, and that impel our “good deeds” and actions in life. Who am I to you? Who am I in your life, in your heart?

Perhaps for our prayer this week we can reflect on Jesus addressing that question to each of us. Who is Jesus to us? Who is Jesus to me? How does that relationship enliven my actions and frame my life? Where is Jesus inviting me to go deeper, to remain and to abide in that love? Where is God inviting us all to renewal?

These past three months since my arrival at Holy Trinity, I have been overjoyed (and, I confess, a bit overwhelmed!) in witnessing the way that this parish community lives out of that faith relationship – a faith that is living and effective, demonstrated time and again in works and deeds. This weekend our parish highlights these many opportunities to live out our faith with the Ministry Fair after each liturgy. The energy and enthusiasm, the vibrancy of this parish community, and the work of the Spirit are a joy to witness.

I encourage everyone to join us at the Ministry Fair after Mass to explore the varied opportunities to live our faith together. As summer draws to a close, as the school year resumes, and as we begin to emerge from the “upper rooms” of our pandemic isolations, we are all invited to a renewal and recommitment to live our faith “in deeds over and above words.”

This past August marked my 10th year as a Jesuit, and this June began my first year of priesthood. I am deeply grateful to have the opportunity to spend such a formative time in my own life with you here at Holy Trinity. Your witness and example have been inspiring for me and nourishing of my own faith. Indeed, it has been quite the summer already, and I am very
much looking forward to praying and to ministering alongside you in the coming year!

Know of my prayers and gratitude for you, with peace and every best wish.