Kia tau te rangimarie kia koutou
If we want to know how the Church should be today, that the simplest thing to do would be to read and pray with the Acts of the Apostles. It tells the story of the early Church and tells us what it means to live and act as disciples of Christ. The early Christians were filled with hope and joy. To see this we only have to read that wonderful passage from Acts 2: 42-47.
” They remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood (fellowship), to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. And everyone was filled with awe; the apostles worked many signs and miracles. And all who shared the faith owned everything in common; they sold their goods and possessions and distributed the proceeds among themselves according to what each one needed. Each day, with one heart, they regularly went to the Temple but met in their houses for the breaking of bread; they shared their food gladly and generously; they praised God and were looked up to by everyone. Day by day the Lord added to their community those destined to be saved.” (New Jerusalem Bible)
When we read that passage, reflect on it and pray with it, we can easily see that those few lines were written about a community which lived the heart of the Gospel. They shared the Eucharist and they prayed together, they were focused on one another and on the needs of the community. Those words of Scripture are a great example of what our parish communities ae called to be today. This is also the image of the Church which the Second Vatican Council set before us. The Popes who led the Council and all those involved – now over 50 years ago – cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the Church and looking for ways to give direction and growth to the Church. In convening the Council, Pope Saint John XXIII showed an incredible openness to the Holy Spirit.
The account from the Acts of the Apostles gives us a helpful examination to use in our parishes today. Are we open to the Holy Spirit and where the Spirit wants to lead us, or is it just what we want? When we share the Eucharist, are we aware of the words of Pope Benedict “Unless this Eucharist passes over into concrete acts of love it is intrinsically fragmented.” (Deus Caritas Est 14) Is prayer between me and God, or is it a genuine experience of meeting God together?
If we tried, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to imitate the early Christian community, maybe the result would be the same for us as it was for them…“they were looked up to by everyone. Day by day the Lord added to their community…”
Don’t stop at reading these few verses from Acts, read the whole story and be inspired by our ancestors in faith. It is our story too!