“The Eucharist is not the finality of baptism,” An African Missionary Cleric Reflects

Francis baptizes a child in the Sistine Chapel on Jan. 12, 2020.
Credit: Vatican Media

Days after the recent Feast of the Baptism of the Lord that marked the conclusion of the Christmas season Sunday January 12, a missionary priest ministering in the West African nation of Togo has questioned the perception among a section of Christians that participating in Holy Mass is “the finality of baptism.”

“Going to the holy table is certainly fundamental for all Christians, but baptism calls above all for a strong and prophetic commitment in favor of the gospel. It must be said, the Eucharist is not the finality of baptism,” Fr. Donald Zagore, an Ivorian missionary in Togo has argued in a reflection shared with ACI Africa.

According to the Society of African Missions (SMA) member, the Extraordinary Missionary Month  celebrated last October under the theme ‘Baptized and Sent: the Church of Christ on mission in the world’ placed “special emphasis on the missionary character of all baptized people” in view of rekindling “the flame of mission in every baptized person.” 

The missionary character of the baptized, the Ivorian cleric affirmed, is “a truth, which today allows us to overcome the trap of constantly wanting to reduce the grace of baptism to the sole participation in the Eucharist, as if the purpose of baptism were only the holy table.”

“To subscribe to such a logic (reducing the grace of baptism to the sole participation in the Eucharist) would be to oversimplify all the content and the requirement to which baptism invites us,” Fr. Zagore said.

In his considered view, the purpose of baptism is “forging within the baptized a prophetic consciousness of the evangelical commitment, nourished by the grace of the Eucharist.”

While acknowledging that baptism offers Christians an opportunity to share in the holy table, the religious missionary has clarified that equally, baptism offers one an opportunity to “be totally and resolutely committed to the cause of the gospel.”

“Without this firm commitment to the cause of the gospel, baptism becomes meaningless,” Fr. Zagore has reflected.

Parish catechesis in Africa must try to take up the challenge of “inculcating in future baptized people this prophetic consciousness of evangelical commitment which certainly has its source in the Eucharist but goes beyond it,” the West African religious missionary advised.

ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]