It has been over 50 days since we began to abide by the law to “stay at home” in order to save lives. Months ago this would have sounded bizarre to make this statement. But that is the international reality with which we are faced.
Since then, I have emphasized the importance of living our faith life through the interactions with others, that is, either really or virtually through our “home churches.” The providence of God has been working God’s Will and ways through this extension in the Easter season of the pandemic. Home churches are referred to in several places in the New Testament, for example, 1 Cor. 16:19; Colossians 4:15, Philemon 1:2. It is with the acceptance of God’s Spirit dwelling in our homes that we share this meditation.
I want to submit that the full mystery of God’s presence is alive within us and within the ambiance of our homes, if we take this dimension of our Christian life seriously, and with discipline and deliberation.
For this meditation to make “sense,” please read Acts 14:19,20. You will never hear this story read at a Sunday Liturgy. It is easily passed over, as regards the significance of this event.
Read it over, again. It is an amazing experience of the energy of the Holy Spirit working in individuals in the face of apparent failure and rejection. And this energy is passed on through a group of people deliberately surrounding Paul. Because of his injuries, he appears to be half dead. With no words spoken from the group encircled around him, Paul gets up, rejoins Barnabas and heads off to Derbe the next day. Can we grasp, accept this power within any group that assumes that the love relationship between the Father and the Son is able to convey this life giving encouragement or strength in any circumstance?
Read the passage again, and ponder what you read. Paul and Barnabas continue through several cities, strengthening the souls of the disciples and encouraging them to continue in the faith, saying, “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.” (:22) “Persecutions” take on a far different meaning in today’s parlance. In our culture, simply not taking seriously, nor caring or bothering about another’s personal relationship with Christ could be a form of persecution. Persecution could occur where there is no taking seriously the importance of the Word of God in another’s life or in the life of a family or a community. Taking for granted the Paschal Mystery, the sacramental connection with God’s Life, and the life changing events that brought about salvation for the universe and all its inhabitants, make it extremely difficult, but not impossible, to live our life in Christ with a desire to transform the world into the kingdom of God.
Prayer, meditation on these sacred stories, the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy all contribute to what begins at home.
It is important to personally, and, within the home in which you dwell to ask for the peace which only the Lord can give us. A peace within us that no one can take away. A peace if talked about and acted upon will convey to others that peace which assures safety and surety.
In this Easter season risk making known the Risen Christ within those groups with whom you relate. Live the contemporary “acts” of today’s apostles.
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P., is a member of the Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.