Mass Reading & Meditation for April 13, 2013
Meditation: Acts 6:1-7
Saint Martin I, Pope and Martyr
So they chose Stephen … (Acts 6:5)
After being filled with the Spirit at Pentecost, the apostles began to proclaim the risen Lord with boldness. As a result, many Jews in Jerusalem accepted Jesus as the Messiah, and the infant Church grew day by day. But with such a rapid increase in numbers came growing pains, too!
One of the challenges lay in the distribution of resources that members of the Church had donated for those in need: “The Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected” (Acts 6:1).
At this very early stage in the Church, all the believers were Jewish. However, some—the “Hebrews”—were natives of Palestine who spoke Aramaic and used the Hebrew Scriptures in their worship. Others were Jews of the Diaspora—immigrants to Jerusalem who had been born and raised in other countries. They were called “Hellenists” because they spoke Greek, and they used a Greek translation of Scripture. It seems that the “Hebrews” looked down on the “Hellenists” as second-class believers because they were foreigners.
The apostles didn’t abandon preaching God’s word to handle this problem. Rather, they proposed that the whole community select reliable men to make sure that no one was overlooked and that everyone was treated fairly. And so the Church resolved its first internal crisis in a way that preserved unity and provided for the care of the needy.
This sounds a bit like our Church today. There aren’t enough priests to go around, and occasionally people fall through the cracks. That’s why it is important that each of us keeps our eyes open for those who could use some help or encouragement. Both within and beyond our parish communities, there are many places where we can bring the presence of Christ—places that an everyday priest simply cannot reach.
Do you feel that God is putting a particular concern on your heart or asking you to meet a special need? Don’t ignore these urgings! They may mean a new beginning for you. And like the men in today’s reading, your service may lead you to become more fully empowered by the Spirit of the Lord!
“Lord, I want to say yes to your call. Help me serve your people with love and generosity. Make us all one body, Lord!”
Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19; John 6:16-21