Lord Jesus rose from the dead, fulfilling the mission that the Father had given Him. Christ then said to His Apostles, “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” Regarding the people to whom He was sending His Apostles, Christ added, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” That is, because the Apostles and their successors bore witness. Blessed are those who have believed the testimony of the apostles.
Now, ‘apostle’ means… what? One who has been sent. Christ Himself is the original apostle, sent by the Father to redeem the world. Then Christ postled His Apostles, sending them on a mission to all the redeemed world. “Missionary” means… what? One who has been sent. Missionary apostle, apostolic missionary; bunny rabbit, Easter rabbit, Easter bunny.
Then we read, from the Acts of the Apostles, “with great power, the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of Jesus.” As St. John put it, these missionaries, these Apostles, begot children for God, because, “everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God.”
Hence: By virtue of the fruitful mission of the Apostles and all their missionary successors, we have a family. With God Himself for the Father. And, what do we read? In this family, “No one claimed that any of his possessions were his own, but they had everything in common… There was no needy person among them… Those who owned property would sell it, and give the money to the Living Our Mission campaign.”
Ok. Let’s imagine that Jesus just recently rose from the dead. After all, in the grand scheme of things, 1,982 years is not a long time. The apostolic mission could last another million years, or billion, or gazillion, for all we know.
So, we do well to consider ourselves among the early Christians. We should count ourselves among the first generations of those who believe in Christ. We are among the early-born children of the heavenly Father, begotten by faith in Jesus. We can consider ourselves practically as founding members of the great family of the Church. This family may yet unfold for another 10,000 or 100,000 or 100,000,000 generations. Provided we don’t melt all the glaciers or have a nuclear war. In the year 202015 AD, they will look back and think of us as having been born just shortly after St. Paul.
So we rightly pray in the Eucharistic Prayer that the Lord would include us in the fellowship of the original saints, like Peter, James, John, Cosmas and Damian, Anastasia, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, and Lucy. In the grand scheme of things, all these saints were practically just walking the earth, like yesterday. Just the day before yesterday, St. Peter himself presided over the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Pope Francis is the 266th pope. But, before everything is said and done, there could be 266,000 popes. Only God knows how many popes there will be.
Therefore, let’s consider ourselves on the ground floor, so to speak, when it comes to the mission.
Shouldn’t we, then, have the same spirit among ourselves as they had in Acts, chapter 4? A community of one heart and mind? Doesn’t mean we don’t have disagreements and rub each other the wrong way sometimes. Among those who had “one heart and mind,” according to the Bible, some had been circumcised and some had not. And some of the circumcised men insisted that the uncircumcised had to get themselves circumcised. And, of course, that would be without general anesthesia, or even local. Meanwhile, the uncircumcised men certainly did not have a mind to be circumcised without anesthesia on a Saturday afternoon, before evening Mass.
So they had disagreements, to be sure. But they trusted in the loving power of God, in the promised Holy Spirit. They trusted that faith, hope, and love, would get them through, so long as they stuck together.
We had a hard winter this past winter, here in these parts. We had some Sundays when trying to drive to church posed a little danger. And, of course, as a family of faith, we have our misunderstandings among ourselves, our bad moments, our stresses, our sicknesses–plenty of difficulties to get through together.
Now that winter is over, praise God! hopefully we all perceive just how crucially important it is for us to be at a particular place when it’s time for Mass. Namely: church.
The idea that early Christians, original Christians, founding fathers and mothers of God’s family on earth–the idea that those who someday will be legendary heroes of Christian faith, the idea that such people would miss Mass without some kind of seriously serious reason–like having been arrested, for instance, for having tried to tell people about Christ–the idea that original, founding-father and -mother Christians would choose something else over attending Mass? Absurd, or course. As we read, they held everything in common, they loved each other like a family. The uncircumcised men would have bit the bullet if they had to…
May the good Lord keep us united in love, in faith. And may He help us always to be generous with each other. Our generosity with each other begins with our presence at Holy Mass every week.