How do you get going as a new community of disciples? This is a question asked by the disciples when the Church first walked out of the upper room, following the resurrection of Jesus and the sending of his enduring Spirit. The Church had to get going somehow, by living their lives in Christ Jesus in tangible ways. For the gospel to spread to all parts of the world, it first had to get going locally.
On this Sunday following the resurrection of Jesus, we are presented with how the Church first looked; how it ‘got going’. After all, the Church is Christ present in the world, through the lives of the believers. She is the sacrament of Jesus Christ, and we are his Body. For those who are grafted onto the vine of the glorified Jesus, his resurrection is present in us.
The original community of the Church in Jerusalem was, as we heard in the first reading today, from early on in the Acts of the Apostles, quite distinctive. They met together in fellowship by common agreement; they experienced the ongoing ministry of Christ at the hands of the apostles; they were known and praised for their depth of mutual love; they shared their material goods with one another. Life over death, healing over sickness, were evident in all they said and did. This was the Church – Christ’s Body of believers – in its original form; a hub of love and confidence in the risen Lord.
The signs and wonders that Jesus did were the same signs and wonders of the first Christian community. We might be glad that this was the case in those early years of the Church, but do we have the trust and confidence to say the same of ourselves? For it is the same signs and wonders that we are invited to give witness to now. The Church of yesterday is exactly the same Church of today; we, too, are participants in the same resurrection of Jesus and grafted onto the same Vine. We are filled with his Spirit, we continue his work, and we live with his life; for the power of the Risen Christ is also with us, always.
The example of the early Christian community is the model for any Christian community, and for yours. So, it is worth asking ourselves how we are faring in comparison. Do we strive to meet in fellowship by common agreement? How are we manifesting the signs and wonders of Jesus by our words and deeds? Do others look to us to learn how to love one another? Do we give of our fruitfulness for those in need? Is life among us conquering death, and healing finding a way? Is Christ alive among us?
How might this all happen? As Jesus said to his first disciples, “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you… Receive the Holy Spirit.” In friendship, and through his mercy, Christ gave to his disciples that which would get them going as the Church. The good news is that Jesus is now doing the same for us: giving us his Spirit and sending us out. To believe in the name of Jesus is to believe that we “may have life through his name.”
So, do not allow unsureness or disappointment or an unfavourable attitude get you down. Know that Christ trusts in you, his Body in the world, as you place your confidence in him.
Feature image: “Christ shows himself to Thomas” (mosaic) by Rowan and Irene LeCompte, Washington National Cathedral
Melbourne Catholic22 May 2022
Melbourne Catholic19 May 2022