The Word of God is something nourishing.
The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the Word of the Lord.
Acts of the Apostles testifies the Gentiles were people who could hear the Word of the Lord, accept it and find joy in it. As I ponder this, I’m left with the question how to recreate this? What would it take for us to find tremendous joy in the Word of the Lord? Can we do so in a way that others want it and desire it? The entrepreneur in me wants others to have this experience, yet it is an experience of the Holy Spirit. Luke affirms this as he concludes, "the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit." Frustrating as this is in a consumeristic society, the Holy Spirit can’t be bottled up or kept on the shelf for when we have one of those bad days. And while the Holy Spirit is always with us, it can seem at times elusive. We do know, and scripture reminds us, it can still be fanned into flames.
This Easter I had one of those firsts in my life which was the real culmination of these readings. Throughout this year I’ve been privileged to walk with a group of people through the RCIA.
I was mesmerized by how some in their early 20’s were bringing their friends to come to the evening sessions. I was delighted at how close the group grew during the year. I was captivated with their ability to share faith and ask down to earth questions. I was charmed at their stories and experiences. They were hungry and found nourishment in the Word, instruction and community. In many striking similarities, the faith of the people in Acts of the Apostles was being recreated and relived in this small faith community.
They would speak about how they looked forward all week to their weekly formation evening. They contributed to the larger parish community their time, talents and treasure even when they weren’t even full members, nor was it ever asked or expected of them. They truly enjoyed being together.
The spirit was building in these people of God for many months and during the night of the Easter Vigil it burst forth and bubbled over till everyone in the whole church was glowing and filled with joy. There were no questions of who the Father was, it was a profound encounter with the resurrected Christ. Every person in the church knew it, felt it, and glowed with that Joy of the Holy Spirit. And all of these neophytes, after spending three hours in the church for the Easter vigil, came back the next morning.
The other night I was eavesdropping on their conversation. They were conversing about which mass to go to on the Forth Sunday of Easter. They were doing so with the enthusiasm of a teenager who just got their driver’s license complete with a car and a full tank of gas. They were eager and still hungry for more. What peaked my curiosity most was, they were choosing to make Sunday Eucharist the highlight of their Sunday. None of them were looking for a convenient mass to fit into their busy schedule.
I can remember when it was that way for me. And I wonder how did it slip away? Has this absence of beautiful and simplistic joy clouded my ability to see the lived expression of Acts of the Apostles today?
Fr. David Colhour, C.P. is the pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Louisville, Kentucky.