By Kathy Horan
The season of Easter that we have been experiencing for several weeks is known in Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) terms as a time of Mystagogy – a time for post-baptismal catechesis.This is a time for both the local parish community and the ‘neophytes’, or new Catholics, to engage together in savouring the wonders and mysteries of our faith and deepening our understanding of what it means to be followers of Jesus in our world today.
It is a time for appreciating a renewal of our faith and hope, and our love for the risen Lord. Throughout this season of Easter, our gospels call us to reflect again on images taken from daily life that impress on us the nature of what it means to be identified with Christ. Some of the images used are the vine and branches, the good Shepherd who knows the sheep, Jesus as the way, the truth and the life, and Jesus who is the bread of life, broken and given for us.
Each of these images invites us to move closer to the Lord and to realise that through our baptism we are called into an intimate relationship with the Lord, one that is characterised by love and that identifies us as disciples who share in the mission of Jesus for our times. Joy, hope and newness of life are the hallmarks of this wonderful season.
In many respects, if we take the time to reflect on all that has happened and allow ourselves to live in the light of our faith in the risen Lord, we can experience a sense of wellbeing and gratitude for the Lord who has first loved us, and calls us to be caught up in mission as faithful disciples who go about our daily lives with a spring in our step because we know ourselves loved and cherished.
The notion of journeying reflects the process that our neophytes have been experiencing, culminating in their reception of the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil. Journeying also applies to the whole of the Church, all the time. At this time, we are invited to be mindful of Pope Francis’ call to the Church to faithfully journey together as the pilgrim people of God. This is also known as a synodal journey, that is, walking side by side, spreading the good news of our faith, and expressing our faith in practical ways in loving service. Our baptismal identity means we are identified with the risen Lord and called to be missionary disciples who speak our faith, live our faith, share our faith, listen and communicate respectfully. While we do this, we are invited to renew our commitment to be close to the Lord and to be joyful messengers of the Gospel.
The reality of human life means that we do not always exist in a place where everything is wonderful, plain-sailing or easy. Jesus’ disciples experienced highs and lows and at times denial of what they experienced with Jesus, and they bolstered one another and reminded one another of all that they had experienced and learned from Jesus. In the Acts of the Apostles we read:
‘All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as anyone had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the good will of all the people.’ (Acts 2:44-46)
For all their difficulties and limitations, this early community continued the journey, imbued by the presence of the Spirit as they set out together, walked together, shared their faith together and prayed together. This, too, is our calling, together on the way.