Next weekend we will celebrate the first Sunday in August; a reminder that summer is winding down, at least in terms of vacation for anyone who is school age. Very soon, school will resume, students will return to classrooms and formal education processes resume. For some Seniors, those retired, when school resumes, they become excited about trips to visit family and friends or just get away for rest and relaxation.
At the same time, we don’t take a holiday from being disciples, followers of Christ, people who believe in the power of our baptism. Over the centuries what made a difference in the lives of the faithful besides the sacraments and Eucharist? What moved men and women to become saints, people who were on fire with the Holy Spirit and the Gospel message?
Sherry Weddell in her collaborative book “Becoming a Parish of Intentional Disciples” makes these points. Saints like Vincent de Paul, Francis de Sales, Barbe Acarie and Henry Michael Buch were ordinary people who did extraordinary things, organizing people to come closer to Christ. Whether housewives or shoemakers, ordinary people heard the call of Christ and followed Him. These men and women were intentional disciples together in the middle of his church. They realized they had a mission; people from all walks of life expressed their gifts and charisms to bring the Gospel to all those willing to hear. These men and women were willing to collaborate on a grand scale, learning and sharing ideas from one another. They were present and future oriented, realizing the church has a rich tradition, but applied this tradition to their unique needs and circumstances. Their apostolic creativity was infectious, catalysts for many new faith communities, religious communities, outreaches and spiritual resources. These men and women expected God to act, that the Holy Spirit was going to work through them when they allowed the Spirit to work. They were deeply prayerful, continuing to discover God in new ways through their prayer. And they were faithful even unto, in some cases, a martyr’s death.
Jesus gave the apostles and disciples signs, the multiplication of the loaves and fish, but more than that “He is the bread of life.” He desires to give us imperishable food, food that will last, food that will not only sustain us for the journey, but bring us closer to Him and to one another in faith. We continue to ponder the words of John’s Gospel, chapter six, The Bread of Life Discourse.
Let us journey with Christ!
Father Larry Hendel