Monday, May 19, 2014

Community of Faith

Friends of Faith:

As I listen to the readings from the Acts of the Apostles during this Easter season I am reminded how the first disciples of Jesus worked together and joined “in community” and joined “within the” communities to spread Christianity, the gospel, and form the first church: a church which has stood firm for over 2000 years.

The original unity (community) was with God and Adam and then with God, Adam and Eve. Original sin caused a separation of that original unity; a separation that only Jesus Christ could reunite by his mediation in becoming both human and divine. In his humanity he directed the apostles to form the original church and by His divinity he gave us the sacraments which allow us to receive His grace thus restoring original unity.
When Jesus died he promised that he would not leave the apostles alone so the Holy Spirit remains to guide them and us to build an ordered church, a community of faith, through the witness of his disciples. As Christians we are all called to become active participants, witnesses, within this universal church community and by our example to bring Christ to others.

“… the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses ….to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1: 8
Most of the apostles died martyrs for their beliefs. None of them took credit for their own actions, but rather were miraculously changed by following Christ. As Christians our call is to share in this same life changing experience and to bring others to share in it as well.
The Holy Spirit came upon the apostles (as in ordination) giving them the gift of speaking in tongues so that all could hear the gospel message regardless of the dialect they spoke, and so that no one would be left out of the opportunity to be a part of Christ’s church. The apostles also received the charisma to heal and drive out demons along with performing other signs and wonders.

Just as God made himself visible to us through His son, Jesus; Jesus makes himself visible to us through the Church and the sacraments given to the Church as an outward sign of His invisible grace.
Two other things come to mind when I use the word community: common unity and communion. God the Father and creator has given us a common unity to work towards a common goal which is intended to move us forward to original unity (heaven) and a common universal Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, to instruct and form us in God’s design. He also gives us himself as a common food to nourish us with spiritual energy (his Son, Jesus, in the sacrifice of the Eucharist—aka Communion). Together these “common”alities fill us with His grace and perseverance.

Unfortunately what is also common amongst us in our human nature is the desire to sin. Sin and the devil’s temptation which attempts to keep me away from this unifying community: a nature which feeds me a lie that I can do it myself and that I make my own destiny.

The fact is regardless of what science wants me to believe, humanity cannot survive, cannot continue, without being in communion with Him AS He designed it—the natural order. The foundational community is that of family: the first union was between Adam and Eve, man and woman, husband and wife. And the continuation of God’s children flows from this family unit, the domestic Church, through our unity with God.
We promise to God to love Him AS He loves us, and that is to “love one another AS he loves us.” It takes each of us in covenant with Him to put this command into practice.  If I truly care about unifying God’s people I will put aside my selfish desires and help others in any way I can (regardless of social status): by giving my time in prayer, my talent in service and my treasure to financially support the poor through Christian organizations which give in areas where I cannot.

And by God’s design His community is built by our manifestation of joy and peace within the world. Our actions, our priorities, and our mannerisms towards others will proclaim the Gospel to others much louder than our words.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen [me], you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me.” Jn 6: 35-37.

Building His community requires energy: both human and spiritual food, so that we will never hunger or thirst. Just like I need food in my body every day, I also need the spiritual food found in the grace received through the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Heavenly Father, I place my trust in you. You know my goal, to be in union with you. You know my community of faith, I ask for your blessings on them. Continue to provide us, Your faith community, with Your encouragement to live Your way, in Your Truth and with the hope of Your Eternal Life. Amen.

God designed us so that we wouldn’t be alone in striving for his goal. By our baptism we become members of His community who are called to go out, be His disciples (students), and bring peace, love and joy to others by spreading the Gospel message. We are called to make disciples of all nations by bringing others to be a part of His Christian community, the Church.
Blessings as you join in and spread His community of faith,


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