Pastoral Message – May 7, 2023
I had some surgery the week after Easter. The procedure corrected a hernia. The hernia started with a hard cough and then for years I nursed it, watching my belly button grow out instead of in. Post-surgery, I have a normal belly again – well, big but normal. I’m healing well, back to work and full of gratitude that it’s fixed. In the last couple of weeks of recuperation, some of y’all had heard of my woeful state. So I’m grateful for the banana bread, fruit, pasta, salads, avocados and prayers y’all lavished upon me!!! (Fr. Mike also appreciated the pasta and treats! I shared it all with him). I really appreciated your care and concern! Thank you!!!
OK, enough about me. Below is a quick fervorino.
In our first reading from Acts 6, the nascent Church is growing. The Church leaders are seemingly conflicted and distracted. They’re dealing with very human issues. Folks are complaining and fighting. Still the Church leaders are trying to get it right. What should they do?
The cause of the complaining? Well, very human issues have reared their ugly heads. Evidently, alms have been withheld. Compassion was misguided. Food and financial sustenance have been diverted. Favoritism had been uncovered. Blessings are unequally shared. Greek widows were complaining. Hebrews were accused of not sharing. Was there taunting and gloating to boot? Were racial slurs thrown about? Were lines drawn on ethnicity? Or Language? Or on party lines?
The Church leaders knew it instantly. This situation is not right. It is an injustice. Folks are not living up to the ideal of Jesus Christ! And worse yet, such human issues could bring the early Church down! (Sometimes it seems that human issues are bringing the current Church down too!).
What to do?
Well, what’s the first mission of the Body of Christ? Answer: Preaching and teaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Church leaders understood their role. Still, they made a point to define their role more precisely. That way, nothing would distract them from their Godly, appointed task.
After the Church leaders defined their own role, they appointed others to minister in the distribution of goods. They sought out sincere, honest, compassionate people to take care of those in need. Really from this small group of 7 reputable men, the order of Deacon came into ministry.
So just and righteous folks were appointed to oversee the distribution of alms. Thus roles were defined. Tasks were assigned. But more importantly, the role of the Body of Christ, the Church was expanded. The ministry of preaching the Gospel was coupled with a ministry of caring for the poor, the widow, and the orphan.
That was then. This is now. Human physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs are met through the ministry of the Church. This is a legacy that has continued for 2023 years. And we’re encouraged to take up our role in the Body of Christ – the Church. We can be ministers of the Word of God as Lectors, Catechists and people of prayer. We can be ministers to people who are hungry, infirm, young, old, addicted, afflicted and in financial need. We can exercise generosity, giving alms, using our talents, lavishing our time on others.
So pray that you might find the grace which is your own role in the Church. Pray for the Church at large! And pray for Church leaders! Ultimately, pray that all together, we who are the Body of Christ, will be delivered from frail human issues so we can show God’s love to the world.
God bless y’all!