In his writings, Saint Paul reminds us that “we are ambassadors for Christ” (II Cor. 5:20). To be an ambassador is to stand in the place of another, to represent another person. From the very beginning of civilization, kings have had their ambassadors to speak on their behalf and to conduct the affairs of state in the name of the king. Even the President of the United States has ambassadors to carry out the mission of our Republic.
But there is something peculiar to the life of an ambassador: They are seldom remembered! For instance, how many ambassadors can you name? This may be revealing: the ambassador is, of his or herself is not as important as the one he represents.
So, it is with us. In Baptism we were incorporated into Christ; we were claimed by the sign of his Cross and we were anointed with the sacred chrism. Through the saving waters of baptismal death, we were granted special rights and privilege. We became Christians — other Christs. By virtue of our baptism we are ambassadors of Jesus, and have as our chief duty the challenging task of imploring everyone we meet to “be reconciled to God” (II Cor. 5:20).
Last Wednesday’s signing with ashes serves three key purposes. First, they remind us of our own mortality. As such, they remind us that we are not as important as we often like to think we are. The One who is important is the One who dies no more, the One who calls us his friends and his ambassadors.
Second, the ashes on our foreheads in the form of the Cross make our unique allegiance clear to those we meet. They point not to ourselves but to Him who died for us, and they serve as a silent call to reconciliation with God and with his people. As we are signed with the ashes, we pray for the grace to conform our lives ever more closely to the will of God, even though it often means setting our own will aside.
Third, the ashes remind us that if we are to be faithful and effective ambassadors of Christ, our lives must reflect his life. Today we remember that our life – marked by our sins and our sinful desires – and does not always look like the life of the Lord, in that we are not clear reflections of his love. For this reason, we seek to rend our hearts before the Lord so that he might wash us clean and become the righteousness of God in Him (cf. Joel 2:13; Psalm 51:4; II Corin. 5:21).
In these remaining days of Lent, we should strive with greater fervor and devotion, through our penance and our increase in prayer, fasting and alms-giving, to seek to model our lives on Christ Crucified. If we imitate Him and strive for the perfection of the love of God and the love of neighbor, we will be found worthy ambassadors of Him who is both just and merciful.
Speaking of the work of ambassadors, though we don’t have the final numbers in just yet, it seems from preliminary figures that our 54th Annual Parish Festival is going to go down in parish history as the best ever!! A heartfelt “thank you” to all the involved parishioners who, as ambassadors of St. Vincent Ferrer parish, helped make this event such a success, whether by your kind volunteering many hours of time, sponsoring an ad, purchasing a raffle ticket or donating your time, talent and treasure (including “goods” baked or used) for the weekend event. Though threatened by a little rain late Saturday, many people came from near and far (England, Ohio, Michigan and so many outside our state lands) to help us raise the funds that will help keep our award-winning school going. With a current enrollment of 397 students, we are growing stronger each year. In a special way, I want to thank Parish Manager, Deacon Bob Laquerre, and our parish Director of Stewardship and Development, Dan Siller, for their many late evening hours in securing so many new advertisers to help underwrite the festival. There were many people who worked behind the scenes in the “back room,” counting ticket returns and daily managing the safe flow of the funds, including Angelo Sadolfo, Rosaly Di Maria and Joe Mastrullo. Our 2 Sisters Elizabeth and Ana Rojas sold many, many tickets to help our Ticket Chair, Maria Sesto, reach her goal (we “sold out” ALL the $100 ones). Our Director of Campus Maintenance, Jay Flood, and his team worked for weeks to prepare us, and the Attards and their fabulous “Crew” managed the gigantic Flea Market that was bigger than ever. The Festival Committee with Chair, Matt Wolf, is to be congratulated for bringing about a very successful event. It took a lot of willing hands, TEAMWORK and a family spirit to do it all. To any and all who helped us in any way in making it all happen, a big THANK YOU — from our children, Mrs. Delgado and myself. May God bless and reward you many times over!