Monday, April 21, 2008

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Acts 6:1-7
1 Pt 2:4-9
Jn 14:1-12

We tend to think that divisions in the Church are something new, a product of our own time. Yet in reading the First Reading from Acts we discover that divisions in the Church go back to the very beginning, to the very first followers of Christ. The Hellenists complained that their widows were being slighted by the Hebrews in the daily distribution of food. The Twelve were compelled to remedy this situation. Their solution was to appoint seven men of good character to oversee this distribution and ensure that it was done fairly. These seven, Stephen, Phillip, Timon, Nicanor, Parmenas, Prochorus, and Nicholas of Antioch have come to be known to us as the first deacons of the Church, devoted to service of the People of God. This order, recently revived, exists to serve the needs of the Church. It is not, however, the sole province of this Order of Deacons to serve the Church. All the baptized are called to this service. Each Christian is called to service, for it is in service that we live our faith. I find it quite interesting that the Twelve chose seven men to serve. Why seven? Why not five or eight, or twelve? The number seven keeps coming up in different places, a number of significance. Seven seals, seven sacraments, forgive your brother’s offenses 70 times seven, all very meaningful, all involving seven. Seven was once thought to be the number of spiritual perfection. So the choice of seven men to serve was certainly not accidental. The seven chosen then, and those today are called to demonstrate to all members of the Church the importance of service. These seven were called to serve, to show that the Church reaches toward perfection in serving. As each of us comes to follow their example, as each of us serves others, we bring the Church just that much closer to where it should be. We serve and bring the reign of God closer to reality.
Deacon John
Fifth Sunday of Easter
April 20, 2008