As we read about the history of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles during this Easter season, we see that the spreading of the faith is about more than believing. It’s also about living out the consequences of our faith.
St. Paul and the other early disciples, including St. Stephen and the other early martyrs, paid a price for bearing witness to Jesus in the world, as they persevered against the hostility of the Romans and others who opposed them. Each age has its own challenges in living the Christian vocation.
Ministry in the church means that ministers not only instruct, but also walk with others on their journey of faith. Pope Francis uses the image of shepherds with the smell of their sheep to describe how ministers of the gospel, which in some sense includes all believers, should be close to the people they minister to.
Our care for those in need should reflect our ministry at its best: bringing people together in their pain in the context of faith and providing comfort in the support and prayers of the Church, an immersion in the death and resurrection of the Lord. In the celebration of the Ascension we have a promise that where the Lord has gone, we will follow.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.” (John 15:16)