Events that happen first in life are significant. Take for example, the baby that is born first in the family. Everyone waits in joy for the first smile, the first lock of hair, the first tooth, the first birthday, and first day at school etc. Then, along comes child two or three in the family and there is still excitement but also sense of déja vu.
The same happened with the first administration of the vaccination for the corona virus. The first day people received it; we heard interviews and saw images on the media of those who received and those who administered the vaccine. There is a sense of excitement, anticipation, joy and adventure about the first time a child receives the sacraments. We remember the day we received Communion for the first time. Do we remember the second time or the 102nd time? However, as time rolls by humankind loses the first’s flavour.
It is good to take time to reflect on a first event. Religious communities continually return to the foundation of their Company, Congregation or Institute to get a flavour of the original charism and spirit of their Founder or Foundress. This helps to renew and revitalise the mission. How often our leadership invites its members to return to the source. This does not mean going backwards in time and doing something the way it happened 400 years ago. The value in returning to the source is to tap into the spirit of why the congregation emerged in such a way and to minister in a way that is life giving for all.
This is exactly why in this Easter season the Word proclaims the Acts of the Apostles. The Church celebrated the Resurrection on Easter Sunday and the Acts of the Apostles proclaims the life of the early Christian communities. The resurrection happened over 2000 years ago and every day Christians celebrate the reality that Christ is alive among us in season and out of season. The readings from the Acts and the Gospels tell fascinating stories about Jesus, the first disciples and the growth of the early Church through the power of the Holy Spirit. Each day the Word draws us to the source.
Today at Mass, the word proclaims (Acts 11:19-26) the foundation of the Church in Antioch. The disciples first preached the Good News to the pagans in Antioch. This happened after the persecution, which took place because of Stephen. Initially they preached to the Jews and then they preached to the Greeks. The Lord helped them, a great number believed, and there were many conversions to the Lord. Then the Church sent Barnabas to Antioch. Barnabas was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit. He encouraged the people to remain faithful in their devotion to the Lord. Subsequently, many more people became Christians. Barnabas then sought out Saul, and they worked together instructing the people. It was at Antioch that the disciples first got the name of being Christians.
The Gospel (Jn 10:22-30), proclaims the dialogue between the Jews and Jesus. He continues to testify about himself and his works. He praises the work of the Father and announces to them that he ‘and the Father are one.’ They do not understand.
Today Jesus encourages his disciples in their faith. He wants us to believe in him as one sent by the Father. He also reveals himself as one with the Father. God desires that the disciples continue to spread the Good News of the Father. God also wants us to understand that when the disciples stay close to Jesus, they will never get lost. They will have eternal life. Jesus is alive and God’s people pray ‘Alleluia.’
VERITAS offers online resources on the Grow in Love website including the Grow in Love I nGrá Dé e-book for all class standards to support the theme of discipleship.
- Give praise and thanks to God by saying ‘Alleluia’
- Pray the Act of Faith/ An Gníomh Creidimh
- Pray the Apostles’ Creed/ Cré na nAspal.
- Read about Barnabas from your Bible (Acts 11: 23-24) and note the way he encouraged the people to remain faithful to the Lord.
- The Jewish people celebrated the Feast of Dedication. Read about this feast in the Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé programme for Fifth Class.
Sr Anne Neylon