SATURDAY, Easter week two
April 9. 2016
The Responsorial Psalm is a prayer of trust based on relationship with God: “0 Lord, let your mercy be upon us, as we place our trust in you” (Psalm 33). Remember, to “have mercy” is to “come to the aid of another out of a sense of relationship.”
In Acts 6: 1-7 the Church is facing a “crisis” — that is, a moment in which a decision must be made, one which will affect the well-being of the community. The response was given by the Twelve or “college” of the Apostles (represented now by the worldwide “college of bishops.” A “college” is a “permanent assembly” with certain collective powers and responsibilities: see Catechism of the Catholic Church, #880 and The Church #19, in Abbot, The Documents of Vatican II). The Apostles “called together the community” and asked them to “select seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom,” whom they would appoint to handle the situation. The inspired recorder of this event notes that “the proposal was acceptable to the whole community,” which tells us that the Apostles’ government was a collaborative ministry, a community-wide discernment of the will of God, not just unilateral decisions by decrees from on high. The community trusted that if they consulted and prayed together, God would guide them. And he did.
John 6: 16-21 shows us the Apostles learning this trust. Jesus had left them to “go up the mountain by himself.” When evening came, they “got into a boat, and started across the sea” by themselves. This is an image of the Apostles trying to guide the Church after Jesus had ascended into heaven. It was stormy going. They felt inadequate and afraid. In the Gospel scene the waters were rough and the wind against them. That is when they “saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat.” That scared them even more! But Jesus said, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” They wanted to “take him into the boat, but the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading.”
The point is pretty clear: Jesus is always, in fact, “in the boat” with us. That is why we are going to arrive, to reach our goal as Church. But we have to consciously “take him into the boat” – give him an active role in the community — by crying out to him together as Church. We base our prayer on the relationship we have with him as risen Savior; as head of his body, the Church. And so we pray, “0 Lord, let your mercy be upon us, as we place our trust in you.” This is the way the Church makes prophetic decisions.
Initiative: Be a prophet. Trust in God to guide the Church through communal prayer, discernment and decision-making.