The Struggle To Be Christ
Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
2nd Sunday of Easter
Jesus continued to live and act in his disciples after his execution and resurrection. That was the message that Luke wanted to get across in the second part of his gospel that we know as the Acts of the Apostles.
During a Sanhedrin trial of Peter and other apostles a judge named Gameliel suggested that others had claimed to the Messiah before only to have their movements evaporate soon after they died. He suggested that the Jewish authorities not upset themselves over Christians since, assuming Jesus had misguided them, they too would soon fade away.
Luke wrote Acts to make the point that Christians, rather than fading away were increasing in number. They were spreading throughout the Mediterranean world because Jesus’ Spirit was alive and active within them.
The picture Luke painted of the Christian community may have been idealized but it portrayed how they attempted to live and what they tried to be for their world. They wanted to stay faithful to the way of Jesus; they wanted to care for one another so that everyone among them had dignity and worth. They wanted to remember Jesus’ total love for them that they experienced in the sharing the bread and wine. They wanted to deepen within themselves the image of a world transformed into God’s Gift to all people. That vision had filled Jesus’ life and guided his deeds; it would fill and guide theirs as well.
There are days when we all feel our Church is floundering without a sense of purpose. We feel like a committee whose sole goal is to continue to be a committee: it verges on absurdity. If we’re attentive to what’s written between the lines and allow for a certain heroic tone, a slow reading of the Acts of the Apostles gives us a good idea of what it means to be a community in Jesus’ Spirit. It tells of the ongoing struggle to be God’s love in a very imperfect world.