Pastor’s Corner for the Third Sunday of Easter, Year A, by Br. Sechaba Liphoko

The Sacraments as a Journey of Faith

As Catholics we believe that our faith is built on both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. For years, the Christian faith was passed on through oral tradition. “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thessalonians 2;15)

Catholics believe that the Eucharist is Jesus. We take seriously Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (John 6:54-55). We follow Jesus’ command at the Last Supper to celebrate the Eucharist: “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:19). Jesus’ sacrifice, his self-gift on the cross, continues to be made present in the celebration of the Mass, where through the Eucharist we receive Jesus himself and are brought into union with God and communion with one another.

Jesus proclaimed: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:18, 19). We believe the Church was built on the witness of the first apostles and carried on by their successors and the Christian community through the ages. The pope receives his authority through an unbroken line of succession that began with Saint Peter. Each pope receives the keys of Saint Peter and thereby directly carries on the work of Jesus Christ.

We believe our faith is lived out and transmitted through the community of disciples. Our faith community is based not on common ideas or interests, but rooted in the Sacrament of Baptism and nourished through the reception of Jesus in the Eucharist, where we become one as the Body of Christ. We believe this is the unity Jesus spoke of in the Gospel of John, “that they may all be one, as you Father are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (John 17:21). As a result of this unity, we are committed to sharing our gifts and resources for the good of our brothers and sisters. Our religious communities model this through their prayer and service.

We believe that the Sacrament of Baptism is our entry into the life of Christ (John 3:5), as do many Christians. We also celebrate six other sacraments, each based on Sacred Scripture and given to us by Jesus Christ. With each sacrament, it is Christ who acts through the Spirit. It is Christ’s body we receive in the Eucharist (Matthew 26:26); Christ’s touch we feel when sealed in the Spirit at Confirmation (John 20:22); Christ’s words of forgiveness we hear in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Luke 5:21); Christ’s healing we experience in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick (Mark 8:22-25); Christ’s blessing voiced at the Sacrament of Matrimony (Mark 10:9); and Christ’s ministerial service given in the Sacrament of Holy Orders (John 13:15). When celebrating a sacrament, we are touched by Jesus. By God’s grace, we become what we receive and are strengthened for the journey.

Br. Sechaba Liphoko