​‘God’s Word is sharper than any two-edged sword,’ archbishop tells parishioners

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‘God’s Word is sharper than any two-edged sword,’ archbishop tells parishioners of Mary, Mother of the Church

It has been quite the past year-and-a-half for the faith community at Mary, Mother of the Church Catholic Parish.

In 2020, on the feast day of Mary, Mother of the Church, June 1, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, read the decree establishing the first new Catholic parish in the archdiocese in 20 years and named Father Martin Leopold as the new pastor.

This new parish, which received funding from the On the Way–¡Ándale! capital campaign, is located at the corner of Potranco Road and Rousseau Street, a high growth area of San Antonio with more than 150,000 homes.

“The Lord is with us!” proclaimed Archbishop Gustavo during the decree signing ceremony.

And on that June 1 afternoon, Father Leopold celebrated the first Mass on the site at the parish site for 20 attendees.

Just recently, on October 10, Archbishop Gustavo returned to the site where he had blessed the ground in December 2019 to celebrate an outdoor liturgy under a breezy, overcast noon sky.

In his homily, the archbishop delved into the Gospel reading from Mark, the parable of the rich young man, words which challenge our vision and values, our priorities and desires.

“Let us stand for a moment with the young man who asks Jesus what he must do to ‘inherit eternal life.’ His request is very admirable. He is a virtuous person. Jesus loves him very much and gives him a challenge in five steps: go, sell, give, come, follow me. In the gospels, Jesus invites many individuals to follow him,” Archbishop Gustavo explained, asking, “Why does this person reluctantly go away instead?” He replied, “Because possessions have a special power to hinder missionary discipleship.”

The archbishop joked with listeners that if they were hoping to go to heaven to own a huge mansion there, with a private spa, a car collection, a big private jet and a bigger yacht, “I am sorry to disappoint you; that’s not it.”

“We are not in a position to judge the young man, for the world in which we live each day greatly values possessions. Those who have many things struggle to keep and protect them. Those who lack many possessions struggle to get them. None of us escapes this influence,” he acknowledged. “All of us have material needs and we need to work to satisfy them, but you can only drive one car and sleep in one bed at a time. Their purpose is not to give you self-confidence, but to help you get around and rest, for you to carry out the mission that God gives you as a disciple. The Lord reminds us today that objects are means. God provides you with the means you need to do his will.”

The San Antonio prelate emphasized that each of us resembles the young man, saying that we find it difficult to follow Jesus along the way to Jerusalem, Calvary, and the cross. “Moreover, we might be shocked by what Jesus tells the man. So, let us stand for a moment with Jesus’ disciples. We find that they are alarmed and astonished. He questioned, “How can anyone enter into the kingdom of eternal life — if what Jesus says is to be taken literally?” When Jesus responds, the disciples seek a way out.

The Missionary of the Holy Spirit stressed that the answer lies in God’s call and gift alone to create the true disciple. “The world and its prizes are ultimately insignificant, as is merely human wisdom. By our own unaided effort, it would be impossible to be authentic disciples. We need God’s gift and help. The Father in heaven will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

Pope Francis says that the very Word of God was made flesh, humbled and impoverished himself for us, “to make us rich in the gifts of salvation, of the word, of grace. … being poor is allowing yourself to be enriched by the poverty of Christ and not wanting a wealth of other treasures which are not those of Christ, it is doing what Christ did.”

Archbishop Gustavo exclaimed to those seated on folding chairs in the grass and dirt under scattered trees that this parish is already a sign of Christ’s poverty making us rich, through the generosity of its parishioners. “Our society has the bad habit of pricing everything in dollars. We do not do that!” he told parishioners. “We celebrate the gift of yourselves for the Church because it is God’s gift for us, which is priceless. Thank you! Thank you!”

He continued, “Jesus looks intently into our lives and quietly affirms the simple, but profound, truth – that life in its fullness — eternal life — is not to be had by accumulating things, but by divesting ourselves of whatever keeps us from following him. The way to be truly rich is to die to wealth. It’s so simple — but also difficult! The Holy Spirit gives us all we need to respond in faith and become true missionary disciples!”

The archbishop concluded by asking that the Blessed Mother of the Church teach us to pray only for the Holy Spirit, to make God’s will our own.