In the Acts of the Apostles we read how the Apostles and those dedicated to Christ and his teaching, would seek to bring others to the Lord and help them become faithful followers. Through Baptism each generation have been called by God to do the same and bring about his kingdom.
Once we engage with someone and they in turn are drawn to Jesus Christ and the Good News, we shouldn’t leave them in isolation to get on with their new-found faith. It is up to us through prayer, encouragement and our own personal example, to draw them ever closer to the Eucharist and the Word of God, the scriptures.
Pope Francis has requested that this third Sunday of ordinary time be designated as the ‘Sunday of the Word of God’ and it is a timely reminder to us of our responsibility to find time to be nourished by the scriptures. It is also a reminder to us that we should be open and available to telling others of the riches of the wealth of the faith, especially the riches to be found in the Bible, the living Word of God.
This is, of course, is evangelisation. A major priority of the Church is to evangelise. Often when we consider the word ‘church’ we think of a building, a structure. It is true that the English word ‘church’ derives from the German word ‘kirche’ which is a building. However, in Matthew’s Gospel when Jesus says, “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church (Mt 16:18), the word Matthew uses is not ‘kirche’ but the Greek word ‘ekklesia’. This word described the assembling, the coming together of people in any particular locality to discuss matters relevant to the people in those areas.
This, I think, is what we need to focus on: we need to see ourselves as ekklesia, a movement of people growing in number and faith in each generation. Jesus and his Disciples never set about building churches but gathering people to themselves and equipping them with the Good News to do the same to others.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not diminishing the importance of our beloved church buildings, our places of worship and I’m certainly not advocating abolishing them. Indeed, we need our church buildings so that we can come together to celebrate Mass, to build up the communion of the faithful and be a powerful sign to the love of God.
What we do as ekklesia in kirche is a vitally important foundation stone to what we do for others in our daily lives.
Pope Francis has asked that this Sunday be a Sunday of the Word of God so that we might “…appreciate the inexhaustible riches contained in that constant dialogue between the Lord and his people”.
Let us all pray for the courage to bring those riches to others.