Deacon Tony reflects: Now we are the church

In the Gospel today we continue to hear the prayer used by Jesus at the Last Supper. In the section we hear, Jesus is talking about loyalty, He insists that those who love Him must keep His word, that those who love Him will be loved by the Father and that both He and the Father will make their home in those who love them. We also hear Jesus tell us that He will send the advocate, the Holy Spirit to teach us. As some in our Pastoral Area will be celebrating their Confirmation this weekend and others next month, we are reminded that the Holy Spirit will teach us, remind us of the words Jesus used and that through Jesus we will receive His Peace. In this Eastertide we call this the Peace of the Risen Christ.

These words spoken at a time when Jesus must have been anxious, are a comfort to all who suffer. Jesus knew that He was about to be taken and brutally killed, and yet He was telling the apostles ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.’ Jesus continued to teach right up until His dying breath and just in case we forget anything; He has given us the Holy Spirit to help us remember and to continue teaching us.

We heard in the 1st reading from the Acts of the Apostles, that there was great debate around certain practices from the Hebrew Faith and whether they should be continued in the early Christian Church. The decision taken by the early leaders of the Church, following a period of discernment and prayer to the Holy Spirit and conveyed to the Christians in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia, confirmed that the Christian Church still had its roots in the Hebrew Faith, but that through the New Covenant some of the traditional customs and practices were no longer necessary for people to be saved. Through the Paschal mystery the roots of the faith remain, but now it would be taking a different direction. Now all mankind can be saved; not just the Jews, now everyone could become part of the Chosen people.

Note that these decisions were not taken by the men alone; they invoked the Holy Spirit. This same Holy Spirit promised by Jesus as our Advocate to the Father. The account given in the First Reading is one of the earliest examples of this Advocacy in action. The apostles trusted completely what Jesus had told them throughout his Ministry and because they trusted Him and loved Him they were able to build His Church.

When we have difficult decisions, do we pray about them? Do we ask the Holy Spirit for guidance? I spoke two weeks ago about my discernment for my vocation, this period involved a great deal of prayer over several years to initially stick my head above the parapet, but also during the Formation years of studying for the Diaconate. Prayer is essential in our everyday life, not just for the big decisions in our life, we need it just as much to get through the mundane, everyday things we have to deal with. In fact, any decision we make in our lives should involve God; as Christians we know that God should be at the centre of our lives. So, let’s take a moment to think. When did we last consider praying and asking God for his guidance? When did we last pray for the Holy Spirit to protect us and our family?

As we hear in the 2nd reading, the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem bear the names of the apostles. These men who dedicated their lives to building up the Church. Today more 2 billion people currently on earth call themselves Christians as well as the countless numbers in the last 2,000 years. We are their legacy, now we are the Church. Now we are the ones who must keep Jesus’ word, now we are the ones to share God’s word with those we meet.

Jesus tells us that if we love Him, then we will keep His word. Keeping his word is difficult at times. There are times when we stray away from His word, but thankfully we can repent, confess our sins, be reconciled to the Father and each other and then try harder to keep God’s word. By keeping His word, we are called to love one another, we are called to serve, we are called to tell others about how Jesus has saved us and how He can save them too.

The young people who made their First Holy Communion at St Bede’s yesterday, heard Fr Dominic thank their parents; he then asked the parents to thank their children; to tell them how proud they are of their children and to congratulate their children. He explained by giving their children this message then they were committing to bringing their children to Church every Sunday. These children have joined our Eucharistic Family. Yesterday was just the start; by regularly receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist they, like us, get to become more Christ like. We receive the Eucharist so that He lives in us. As He lives in us, we can become more like Him. As we become more like Him, we start to become more zealous in our Faith, will want to do good; living the virtues of faith, hope and love. By living these virtues, we attract more people to the Faith. This is what the Apostles did all those years ago, this is what we are called to do today.

I pray that the Holy Spirit will be with you in your homes, your work, your school and most importantly, in your heart.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

CCC 2746-2751: Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper
CCC 243, 388, 692, 729, 1433, 1848: the Holy Spirit as Advocate/Consoler
CCC 1965-1974: the New Law fulfills the Old
CCC 865, 869, 1045, 1090, 1198, 2016: the heavenly Jerusalem

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • The Ukrainian and Russian people, may they be able to live in peace.
  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • The Year of the Eucharist, that this will lead to a fresh outpouring of love by the people of God for the Body and Blood of Christ.
  • Those attending the RCIA course at St Bede’s on Wednesdays.
  • Our Confirmation candidates as they continue their preparations.
  • Our young people who celebrated their First Holy Communion this week and last week at St Bede’s.
  • Aaryan and Sabrina who will be Baptised this weekend in St Bede’s.
  • Fr Chris at St Joseph’s who is sick and Fr John & Fr Dominic who are supporting St Joseph’s at this time.