12 or 72 disciples? We reflected on this question last Sunday based on the Lukan gospel about Jesus sending out 72. It is such an important point for our understanding of our own role as disciples that I wish to emphasize it further. Luke, the only gospel writer who mentions this, has a universalist outlook. He wants us to know that the mission of Jesus is not restricted just to the 12 Apostles, but also to a much larger group. The 72 thus represents us all who are baptized Christians whose duty it is to pass on our Faith, as Pope Francis wrote in his first Encyclical ‘The Light of faith’ (Lumen Fidei): “… from one person to another, just as one candle is lighted from another. … It is through an unbroken chain of witnesses that we come to see the face of Jesus.”
We are part of that beautiful chain of witnesses, binding us all the way back to Christ and the first 72 he sent out. Whether others become part of that chain depends on whether we do our part like those ahead of us have. It is wonderful to see some of our parishioners doing precisely that. When I talk to some of our parishioners, they tell me they came because someone invited them to worship at St. Matthias. That’s a beautiful example for the rest of us. If more of us were to do that…. well, you know the result!
But there are difficulties, too. Some parishioners have shared with me their struggle to answer some of the questions people put to them about our faith, our church, our doctrine or about the Bible in general. We feel less confident to share or speak about faith matters. That’s one reason I have been giving an open invitation to all to attend as many sessions as you can – whether it be the RCIA, GIFT or FAITH SHARING. Many parents have expressed – to us priests, deacons and the catechists – their lack of understanding of our faith as they truly want to educate themselves about what we believe. Attending these sessions will enable them not only to teach their children but also to engage other adult acquaintances and friends on religious topics.
Here’s another suggestion for all of us: this summer offers us a wonderful opportunity to enrich ourselves with some knowledge of our faith. When media gurus speak about summer reading lists, why not make our own list of faith-related summer reading list? How many of us have read the writings of or about Pope Francis? Last Sunday I mentioned, “The Joy of Love” which made people more aware of the joy of living the Christian? Or his writing on The Care of Creation (Laudato Si)? This one caught the world’s attention like a wild fire as soon as it was published. In fact, my plan to go solar for our parish buildings was approved due to the openness created by Laudato Si towards better stewardship of our natural resources.
My point is this: we all need enrichment about matters related to our faith. The more effort we will make, the better we will be able to speak boldly about why we believe what we believe. Hence I invite you to do something constructive this summer for our inner life, the life of our soul.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal