Wellspring Community

IPod - 2012 - Wellspring 005

Keeping Faith Alive (10)

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.

Be in your prayer space, follow the usual steps and settle into silence.

 Sit still…..Relax…….Do not rush………

Take a couple of gentle, slow and deep breaths…becoming aware of your breath going in and out… stay focused on this breath of life……

Now from the depth of your heart begin to wish your mind well……….

Take a moment. Bless your day. Let your day Bless you……Take another moment. Bless your world. Let your world bless you……

Every day that we wake up is a good day. Every breath that we take is filled with hope for a better day. Every word that we speak is a chance to change what is bad into something good…….Now from the depth of heart, wish your mind well……

Now I invite you to consecrate this day and all that come with this day….in your own way, in humble, simple, may be even inadequate words………..

I pray for you and I pray for all, who, at this moment, are receiving the gift of this new day! May God bless you and keep you safe in the center of His Love!

I invite you to pray for each other and for all, who, at this moment, are receiving the gift of this new day!

We continue our meditation on keeping our faith alive. Our last meditation was on persevering in our efforts to do what we are called to do and walking faithfully.

The early Christians devoted themselves to “communal life”`, held everything in common and shared everything according to each one’s need (Acts 2:42-45) and that they were of one heart and one mind (Acts 4:32). They cultivated certain disciplines (practices) that sustained their common life: instruction of the apostles; breaking of the bread and prayers; Sharing according to need (not greed); giving to the community for the common good (Acts 2:42-45; 4:32-35).

They cultivated certain virtues which sustained their common life and inspired many who joined them: Harmony; Hospitality; Justice; compassion. This is what kept their faith alive. And that is what should keep our faith alive today.

Peter, in his first letter challenged his readers to be living stones being built into a “spiritual house” – a community, not isolated, individualistic, solitary religion (1 Peter 2:4-9), but faithful people in communion, in fellowship, in union of mind and heart.

Paul used the image of the body to describe his vision of Christian life – many members, with different functions, different in size and shape, form one single body. Paul saw unity (not uniformity) in diversity as God’s gift for common life.

Acts of the Apostles 6:1-6 tells us the story of the disharmony, disunity and partiality that began to surface in the early Christian community. We read about seven men of virtue being chosen in prayerful discernment and being commissioned with restoring and maintaining harmony in the community. The chosen seven were commissioned to reach out to those who were ignored in the community, the less fortunate in the community, the widows and the orphans, women and children – the most marginalized at that time. They were also commissioned to reach out to those outside the circles of the Jewish community, the Hellenists. There were four outstanding virtues which the community recognized as important and urgent: Harmony, hospitality, justice and compassion.

Reflect on what this mean to you today as you reflect on your own call to conversion, transformation, to holiness, to perfection!

The situation described in Acts arose out of disharmony, from complaints and tension in the community. The ministry of the seven chosen deacons was to make sure no one was neglected, and in that way to preserve the unity of the Church in that place and time.

Luke, having experienced the many sources of disharmony in the early church, reflects on the choice of the seven as a call to ministry for maintaining harmony, unity of the Church. In Jerusalem, it was the distribution of food to the neglected; in Antioch it was demanding from all including the gentiles, observance of the ancient rituals such as circumcision; in Gaza and Ethiopia, it was the issue of accepting all people – even the eunuchs of the world, an acceptance denied them by the Temple, the Holy of Holies.

Peacemaking; Conflict Resolution; healing brokenness; cultural integration; nurturing harmony and other similar needs should be important aspects making our faith real.

Hospitality was one of the central virtues and it must be lived out in community and that is one of the many ways that the early Christians kept their faith alive and that holds true for us as well. The first deacons were commissioned to nurture this virtue of hospitality. They were to reach out to those on the margin and beyond the margins and boundaries. Remember Abraham’s hospitality to strangers who brought him the gift he was waiting for: good news about the birth of his son. Remember the story of Jesus in the house of Martha and Mary.

Hospitality is at the heart of the Christian message. Reflect on ways to become more hospitable.

Jesus came proclaiming “justice and peace” for all. He calls us to live a life of justice and peace which are integral parts of the reign of God. There is urgency in our world for justice and peace. We continue the mission of Jesus in proclaiming the kingdom of justice and peace……we dream of justice and peace…we work for justice and peace…and we live in justice and peace……. Be men and women of justice and peace. This is another way of keeping our faith alive.

When Jesus stepped forward to be baptized, he thereby affirmed his solidarity with us sinners in a public way. He became God-with-us-sinners, in the flesh. His conception, his birth, his life and work with Mary and Joseph, his struggle with human weakness, his friendship with people including his enemies…all of which proclaimed his solidarity with us sinful men and women.

Jesus wished to be completely in solidarity with us and so stepped into the Jordan with self-admitted sinners to be baptized at the Jordan.

Justice has to do with right relationships…right ordering of all relationships. Justice is a whole network of relationships and not just “same measure to everyone”. The basis of justice for Israel was the nation’s covenant with God. The basis of justice for us is our covenant with God….our baptism, our immersion into God’s life and love.

Our baptism brings us into solidarity with Christ and with him into solidarity with all people as brothers and sisters, including the less privileged and marginalized. Our faith brings us into solidarity with all people…we are people of God!

Israelites were to father the fatherless, mother the motherless, welcome the strangers, feed the travelers and show hospitality to resident aliens…not only because the outsider and the orphan deserved it, but because this was the manner in which God cared for Israel. They were to reflect the character of God….they were to give to others what God gave to them….they were to act toward one another as God had acted toward them. This is how they were to keep their faith alive in their God and that holds true for us as well.

Their justice was not supposed to be justice of humankind, but the justice of God…the practice of justice was an expression of covenantal love, God’s love as well as their own. This is the kind of justice we are called to practice….giving others what God gave us, acting toward others the way God has acted toward us, loving others the way God has loved us…… “love one another as I have loved you” was the command Jesus gave his disciples! We must make our faith and our love real for us and for all.

Be grateful for today and every day, for the miracle of life, for the amazing grace and blessing of your history, for the men and women who gave you spirit and tradition and for today, be specially grateful for your family and your community…….

May the “Year of Faith” be God’s wonderful gift to you and I pray that you will make it a gracious and joyful gift to others.

Keep your faith alive and your faith will keep you alive!

Fr. Gus Tharappel, msfs