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 people of the Church 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…
… the proclamation of the Gospel is not reserved to certain “mission professionals”, but must be the profound yearning of all 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.