From the Acts of the Apostles in today’s first reading we hear:
The Word of God continued to spread and grow!
We read of the ongoing mission of Barnabas, Saul and John Mark as they preached the word of God in Antioch, Seleucia, Cyprus, and Salamis. These disciples of Jesus were faithful followers of Jesus, anointed and called by the Holy Spirit to continue the mission of Jesus Christ. I have always admired the leaders of the early church for their faithfulness and tenacity to spreading this mission and growing and serving the early Christian communities. We know from the scriptures that they did this often at great peril to themselves. I think the Church of 2021 can learn much from these early faith communities. They represent an Easter hope that we in this post-modern church and world may have forgotten at times.
We live in a very fractured church and world! Many are suffering around us from the woes of pandemic, unrest and violence in family and communities, injustice and inequality suffered by our sisters and brothers because of the color of their skin or gender, economic despair, homelessness, indifference, sickness, addiction, etc. The members of the early church suffered in similar and different ways to be sure. They were privileged to be a part of Jesus’ earthly ministry and grieved his death but carried on in faith spreading the Good News of salvation.
This past Holy Week was my first time in forty years that I was not in the role of pastoral leader. I served as Minister of Communion, Sacristan, Lector and pew sitter at different times. It had its rewards as well as challenges! I found many of the celebrations/rituals to be personally and spiritually rewarding. Some of my profound experiences during the Triduum and Vigil included; Receiving Eucharistic bread made by a parish family, Veneration of the Cross from our pews as the cross was carried in procession up and down the main aisle of Church, watching the altar cloth/Pall carried reverently out of church at the end of the passion reading on Good Friday, the Easter light coming into a darkened church, sharing the light of Christ with the parish assembled and welcoming 3 adults and 1 child into the Christian community through the waters of Baptism.
So, how do we as Easter people continue to spread the message of the Risen Jesus?!
We continue to gather and remember those Holy Week experiences, big and small that happen each time we gather as a faith community to listen to the Word of God, each time we break bread together at the Table of the Lord, each time we profess that Jesus Christ is Lord in word and sacrament! The next step is to take our nourished selves through the doors of our churches, schools, homes, workplaces and share the Easter message with the hurting Church and world around us! Our Risen Jesus calls us to pattern our life on that of the early Christian community. Let us work towards unity in diversity, safety in our neighborhoods and cities, hope for a better future for the marginalized and shunned and most of all, help others to recognize the light of Christ in each one of us in the way we live, act, pray and play.
JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN TODAY, ALLELUIA! HE IS ALIVE IN EACH OF US! ALLELUIA! LET US CONTINUE TO LIVE THE EASTER MESSAGE!!
Theresa Secord retired as a Pastoral Associate at St. Agnes Parish, Louisville, Kentucky.