Saturday, June 3, 2017

It Was The Best of Times

It was the best of times…..

For the past 7 weeks we have been hearing about the growth of Christianity during the days following the death and resurrection of Jesus.  As I read these stories I am reminded of Charles Dickens classic opening line from A Tale of Two Cities.

It was the best of times: 

They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers….they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need….Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes… And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.           
                                                                                    Acts chapter 2

It was the worst of times:

There was an intense pushback against the Christian community.    In a section in Acts called “signs and wonders” people are being healed after placing themselves in Peter’s shadow.  This causes the Jewish authorities to throw the apostles into jail.  Stephen becomes the first Christian martyr.  

Today’s readings

While Luke simply tells us the apostles “were all in one place together” the gospel of John discloses a critical piece of additional information:  The doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear…     John 20:19

Life in these best and worst of times

As I prepared to write this article (the deadline was this past Monday) my yahoo feed led me to Pope Francis’ response to the massacre of Coptic Christians in Egypt.  After pointing out that there are more martyrs for the faith today than in ancient times the Holy Father prayed; “May the Lord welcome these courageous witnesses, these martyrs, in his peace and convert the hearts of the violent ones.

How will the Spirit lead us to respond to the times in which we live?
This weekend we come together as a parish community to celebrate the coming of the same Spirit that gave birth to and has sustained the church for almost 2000 years.  On Saturday night and Sunday afternoon we witness and celebrate this in a particular way as member s of our community (adults and teens) receive the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation.

What will be critical piece of information that describes our gathering? 

Will it be a fear similar to that of the disciples on that first Pentecost?  Perhaps it will be more like what Pope Francis described in a sermon last Sunday.  The Holy Father noted that for many people, their days are spent running between work and various commitments. The risk with this is that “we can get lost, close in on ourselves and become restless about nothing.”

As you look through this bulletin, consider finding yourself in and becoming restless about something.  It might be as simple as coming to daily mass or returning to mass next week.   It might be rereading one of the segments of the Acts of the Apostles from today.  It might be getting involved in our efforts in the Nutley Care Kitchen.  Our response will be to the critical piece of information that describes this gathering.

Blessed to be in ministry at St. Mary’s


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