Grace to you, and Happy Easter!
There is so much to learn from the life of the early Church. Inspired writings in Acts of the Apostles is an excellent resource. I have been drawing from those lessons for the past two weeks. Today's ideas are taken from Acts 13:1-3. Permit me to quote it.
“Now in the Church at Antioch, there were prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Symeon, who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me, Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then, completing their fasting and prayer, they laid hands on them and sent them off." (Acts 13:1-3).
The organizational structure of the early Church was simple. It's understandable because there were a few thousands of believers then. Similarly, the bulk of the activity of the Church happened around Jerusalem, Antioch, and a few other Roman territories in proximity to Jerusalem.
I would want us to focus on the way the early Church commissioned missionaries and the way they took the work of evangelization seriously. Did you observe that they were "worshiping the Lord and fasting" when the Holy Spirit spoke? Did you equally notice that even after the Holy Spirit spoke, and they selected Paul and Barnabas for the first missionary journey, they still fasted and prayed upon them before commissioning them?
Let me apply the same principle to our daily lives as believers. Often, we make decisions and then call God in after we have set our minds on what we want to do. I suppose the Christian model should be to ask God's guidance from the conception stage to the actual execution of the plan.
It is needed more for those involved in ministries in churches. From time to time, we run the Church as a business enterprise or as managers of a for-profit venture. We design a strategy. Feel right about it and go ahead and implement it. Hardly do we let God lead us in the process. Rarely do we immerse ourselves in the prayerful spirit of ministry by inviting the Holy Spirit to help us as we brainstorm, plan, and implement. We tend to forget that we are ministers—shepherds; those called to continually be in touch with Christ the Good Shepherd through prayers and fasting.
Granted, we have to be attentive to the business side of times to pay bills. It's necessary to do so. Nevertheless, when the business side is the principal driver of our commitments in the Church, we realize we have missed the point. Completely. In the long run, we lose. Nobody comes to Church primarily to learn how to build business empires or be mentored into it for that matter. Business schools have it all covered. People come to Church to be spiritually fed and renewed. The Church is more vibrant when we do just that—minister the word and the sacraments; bind the wounds, revive spirits, and shine the light of Christ.
It's our blessing to invite God before, during, and after any mission, we want to undertake as believers. It is our blessings to work with the Holy Spirit, leading by our knees first. I suppose this is the Christian way of doing things. It saves us from doing our own thing instead of allowing God to be the boss. You know, when God is in charge, we are at our best.
Pray: May we learn to invite God as we plan and as we execute. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Wednesday Easter Week 4: Acts 12:24-13:5a; John 12:44-50]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.