Parish communities are called to nourish people
The first reading that we heard proclaimed at Mass on the second Sunday of Easter is taken from the Acts of the Apostles. (4:32-35) In that reading, we hear about the early Christian community, its life of worship and its care and concern for members of the community. It is evident that the reality of the risen Christ has affected them deeply. They recognize that they are hungry, both spiritually and physically. They also recognize that the risen Christ has empowered them to work together to meet those hungers in the members of the community of faith.
In turn, all sorts of resources are gathered together for the benefit of all. Some bring food or other goods, while others sell homes or property, placing the proceeds at the feet of the Apostles, so that they may be put to use in ways that help to nourish the little community of faith. The Apostles themselves bring their faith and their first-hand witness to Christ’s resurrection. As they teach and proclaim this truth, the community is nourished and strengthened. Empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit, the community of faith, led by the Apostles, will have strength to meet the challenges that are ahead for them.
In very few words, the Acts of the Apostles reminds us that communities of faith are meant to nourish and strengthen their members and the surrounding community. A community of faith seeks out those who are poor or vulnerable, and offers them safety, protection and food. In this way, physical needs are nourished. A community of faith also seeks to share the faith from which it draws its own strength and inspiration. As it engages in the literal act of tradition – meaning, “to hand something on to another – he community is able to help nourish inner, spiritual hunger, relying on the strength and wisdom of the Holy Spirit and the teachings of the Apostles, which together help to guide and strengthen the community.
Our parish communities are called to nourish people. We are called to be aware of and sensitive to the needs of those around us. The larger civic and world communities in which our parishes exist provide ample opportunity to tend to the needs of those who are physically hungry. In turn, each parish community must devise ways to respond to those needs. In so doing, our parishes echo the example of the community of faith found in the Acts of the Apostles. Some parishes have created food pantries or food banks to meet these hungers. Others take part in recognized apostolates like the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Still others have created their own unique efforts to gather and distribute food for the hungry. Such is the case for the people of the Catholic Community of St. Jude in DeWitt and their long-standing annual Food for the Poor collection during Holy Week. This effort has been a part of the life of that parish community for over 40 years. You can learn more about it on the pages ahead.
Each of us also hungers for spiritual food – for a deeper relationship with Christ through the Church. That is why our parishes provide religious formation and sacramental preparation for people of all ages. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults helps to form and guide those who hunger for a deeper relationship with Christ and with the Church. The same may be said for Bible study and small faith-sharing groups, as well as a whole host of other ministries. These efforts work to nourish the hunger each of us feels, as we seek to grow in understanding of our faith.
People are hungry. Some hungers are physical, while others are spiritual. May our parish communities always echo the efforts of the first community of faith, so that our hungers, in their many dimensions, might be satisfied by the goodness of God. And so, our journey in FAITH continues.