May 25, 2012
Sunday is the great feast of Pentecost. We remember the day when the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles and filled them with divine power to continue the work that Jesus began. We will hear an account of this event in the first reading of Mass. Amongst other things it is noteworthy how the disciples, who up until now had been full of fear, are transformed and proclaim the message of the gospel with courage, zeal, and conviction.
But the story of Pentecost is our story too. We also have been filled with the Holy Spirit, notably in our confirmation. The same task has been given to us – to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. And, essentially, the same gift has been given to us in that – the Holy Spirit.
There are now incontrovertible signs within the Christian community that one way of being the Church, one sort of Church if you like, is rapidly coming to an end. It’s very easy to find those who view this prospect with alarm and despair. What we need is Christians who rejoice in the challenge of forming a new sort of Church. On Sunday we will cry out ‘Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, that the face of the earth be renewed!’. The Lord is prepared to do that – are we prepared to receive his gift and begin that renewal?
May 9, 2012
The choice of the twelve apostles was no arbitrary decision on the part of Jesus. He wanted to choose twelve men with whom he would share his ministry and preaching. We find lists of the twelve in the gospels, and they are shown as intimately associated with Him. When Judas betrayed Jesus that group was devastated. But it is interesting to note that one of the first actions of the early church after the resurrection was to make the group complete again. In the opening chapter of the Acts of the Apostles we read about the process whereby that choice was made.
The man chosen was called Matthias and we celebrate his feast day tomorrow. He was suitable because he fulfilled the criteria set by St Peter – he had accompanied Jesus from his baptism until the Ascension. And the task he was given is absolutely clear: he is to be a witness to the resurrection of Jesus.
Down through the centuries that has remained the key task of all the followers of Jesus. Although the Apostles hold a unique place in the history of the Church their role is continued by the bishops. And although the Apostles saw the risen Lord themselves we are called to be witnesses to the resurrection too. The new life of Jesus should be visible in our lives. Let’s ask Matthias to pray that it will be.