As we continue to celebrate Easter, we are reading a lot from the Acts of the
Apostles. It is a continuation of the story of the Gospel of Luke, and the story
of the early Church, and a wonderful picture of how to be an Easter
people. This is what the first Christians did as a response to the resurrection
and the descent of the Holy Spirit.
In our first reading this week we see the early Church worked together as one
body. They each cared, not just for themselves, but for the good of all the
members of the Church. Soon we will see Christians helping others who were
not members of their faith community. This was not something people did in
the ancient world, and it made Christians stand out as different. It is one of the
reasons many people decided they wanted to learn more about Christianity. It is
a way of proclaiming the Gospel that not only gets people’s attention but earns
a good deal of credibility.
Right now, as I understand it, the Catholic Church does more to help those in
need that any other organization. However, could we agree there is room to
grow? As a rough guess, what would you figure is the proportion of our
church’s resources that are dedicated to keeping the church itself going? Now,
what proportion do you think is dedicated to helping people in need beyond our
church? What proportion would Jesus want, if the church worked the way He
would like it?
Imagine a central database of opportunities to help those in need, so that
everyone could find some need that would match their gifts, abilities, and
circumstances. Some can do more, and some can do less, but if all one can do
is a teeny amount, if it is done with love, it is huge in God’s eyes (Mark 12:41-
44; Luke 21:1-4).
This will accomplish three things:
- It will make Jesus happy (do we need another reason?)
- It will proclaim the Gospel in a way that connects to people who are not
impressed with institutions or rituals (at least, not impressed yet).
- We will encounter Jesus personally in the people we serve (Matthew
We are called to do two things: encounter Jesus and share Jesus. The more we
do those two things, the more we will flourish as church, the more we will
flourish as disciples, and the more we will flourish as human beings.
For the past year we have been playing defense. It is time for that to
change. We will revisit the survey that had been taken. I will share the work
that has been done as a result, some mistakes that I made and what is to be
done in the future. One of the things that needs to improve is messaging. I am
determined to do better with that myself, and everyone can play a role in
making that happen. I believe there is much reason to approach the coming
year with hope.