Tomorrow you will receive the last of this series of Lenten/Easter Octave email reflections. It has been a pleasure to bring these to you and to know from your responses that you are finding the offerings helpful.
I have been inspired by your commitment. Normally in an email campaign over several weeks numbers who open the email decrease as the days pass. Remarkably the numbers who open the FFF emails has remained consistent these seven weeks.
There is a real hunger among healthy people for the life of faith with Jesus Christ. The more we seek to live fully the more we become aware that even the best things that life on earth can give us are not enough to satisfy the depth of desire we feel.
This restlessness is not a flaw in our humanity but a hunger that is built into us by divine design. This yearning is our capacity for relationship with God and therefore with each other.
Food For Faith is not everyone’s cup of tea. The pieces I share are perhaps best suited to those who are passionately seeking maturity in their relationship with Jesus. The reading takes a commitment of time and energy.
In recent years I have noticed this desire for maturity of faith in a growing number of people of all ages, perhaps most noticeably in those aged between 30ish and 60ish. Many have become dissatisfied with the offerings of institutional religion. They seek more, often in other places, and then many come back to the church community with a new depth that is a sign of maturity in Christ, no longer expecting perfection in religious structures but seeking the depth of what a healthy church community can offer.
As we grow in maturity of faith we stand tall, not expecting clergy to have all the answers or even to set the best example. We understand anew that baptism is the sacrament that anoints us as professional disciples of Jesus Christ.
Pope Francis makes the point well explaining the understanding of the Second Vatican Council:
“Hence, the Council did not see the laity as if they were members of a “second order”, at the service of the hierarchy and simple executors of higher orders, but as disciples of Christ who, by virtue of their Baptism and of their natural insertion “in the world”, are called to enliven every environment, every activity, every human relationship according to the spirit of the Gospel (cf. Lumen Gentium, 31), bringing light, hope, and the charity received from Christ to those places that otherwise would remain foreign to God’s action and abandoned to the misery of the human condition (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 37).
… the proclamation of the Gospel is not reserved to certain “mission professionals”, but must be the profound yearning of all the lay faithful, who are called, by virtue of their Baptism, not only to reform the temporal reality in the Christian spirit, but also to works of explicit evangelisation, proclamation and the sanctification of people. (full 2015 text at this link)
Excuse the long introduction, but it grounds today’s scripture readings in the reality of present challenges.
“The rulers, elders and scribes were astonished at the assurance shown by Peter and John, considering they were uneducated laymen…”
However their personal encounter with the risen Jesus had transformed them into fearless and professional preachers of faith and witness to the living presence of Jesus in the challenging circumstances of the decades after the resurrection.
Remember that the rulers, elders and scribes were good and well-educated people. According to secular measure of religious leadership they were professionals, but compared to Peter and John and the other disciples they were amateurs.
These first disciples were weak and imperfect, aware of the gravity of their sin, and considered by Jesus to be incredulous and obstinate, stubbornly refusing to accept the evidence before them, but they were the ones appointed by Jesus to be the first professional Christians.
Because they had no personal knowledge and ability of their own to rely on they were dependant on Jesus which is why he could confidently appoint them to witness to him, commissioning them, ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.’
We often make the mistake of thinking that big plans and projects are required before we can “proclaim the Good News to all creation.” The reality is that it is the one on one encounter that really makes the difference. This is where faith is born. That is what we see in this Easter week. One woman went to tell two others who then told the group. Two friends were chatting together and joined a third.
Earlier this week I suggested that FFF readers might like to take the initiative of sitting in a cafe at an appointed time and waiting for others to join them to chat about life and faith. Several groups have already met, groups of people who (mostly) did not know each other before they wandered into the cafe and looked for the FFF cross on a table.
I have dropped in to a couple of these groups: within a few hours of the idea being publicised there were three people at a cafe in Kaiapoi. This morning there were five at St. Albans in Christchurch. I had an email this morning reporting on a group of six turning up yesterday at a cafe in Ashburton. This weekend there are six invitations to cafes in Upper Hutt, Kaikoura, Napier, Taupo, Wellington and Lower Hutt. Yes, the John inviting people to the Dowse in Lower Hutt on Sunday at 2.30 is me and I look forward to meeting whoever turns up there.
We know that where two or three gather in Jesus name, Jesus is present. This is what we are experiencing this week. Thank you to those who have taken the initiative (and risk) to name a time and place, and thank you too to those who have been brave enough to turn up to meet with anyone else who arrives.
I encourage you to send in a time and place for meeting over the next few days. See the current list at the bottom of this page.
The ONE who brings us together is Jesus Christ, risen, present and active among us.
- Thank you to those who have given financial support to FFF over the past month. More than 150 people have contributed with a number choosing to make regular contributions. Your gift is already enabling FFF to develop and grow, with more diversity of content, options, podcasts, videos, and more reliable technology to support the website content. If you would like to become a financial supporter of this FFF mission click at this link
- As we conclude this Lenten / Easter week series of daily emails we offer a couple of different options for receiving emails: Update your preferences at this link.
- If you do nothing you will hear from me again once a month with a FFF update, and you will be ready to go for the daily emails again in Advent. (That’s the Lent / Advent option)
- You can choose to receive “regular emails”. This will not be daily but perhaps two or three posts by email each week.
- We are working on a separate tab for Lectio Divina audio. These have remained popular for the weeks of Lent. This will be sorted next week.
- Note you will be also offered the option of unsubscribing from all emails as you go through this process. If you choose this “unsubscribe” option you will not hear from FFF again, even in Advent.
- Remember you can always check the website directly by searching Food For Faith in your web browser or by typing the website address www.foodforfaith.org.nz. Another option is to save the FFF homepage to your homescreen on phone or tablet so you can visit with a quick screen tap.
- And last note, at the very bottom of this page an invitation to a Men’s Retreat. Thanks for forwarding this invite to anyone who might be interested.
Here’s today’s Lectio: