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When young and old share faith
Inspiration comes from every age in the Christian spectrum
"It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first,
. . . we now turn to the Gentiles.”
I was invited to a dinner where five Holy Cross novices were in attendance, held just yesterday. The young men hailed from various Catholic backgrounds, not freshly minted from their parent’s grasp, as one might imagine, but instead handled and spent in circulation through many influences. Not older men, but other careers and adventures had marked their years.
The family who hosted the meal brought several friends to assist in the welcoming and conversation. Friends with a mature faith, decades of God’s handling, and purposely attracted to the promise of BBQ.
Truth be told, we were in the company of young men with a full grasp of their upcoming ordinations, just months away. They gave compulsory answers with spirited enthusiasm, but their concentrations were upon us. Their study of the hosts and us visitors did not register in a measuring way. They spoke and listened with an uncommon glee. Almost, “Oh boy, we’re spending time with real people!”
The way the Gentiles responded to Paul’s update on the Jewish mission to be a light to the world fit the young men we met with.
“The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region.”
Most of us in the Church are Gentiles today. We’re the result of that infectious spread of the word of the Lord from 50 A.D. that Paul talked about. Yet, the apparent need to be infectious was visible in these five men in a way that charges up an old heart, an aged coin almost unrecognizable from its minting, way beyond fifty and sixty years ago.
Who were delighted, you might ask? Us or the soon-to-be ordained. That’s what’s so interesting. Beneath everything we do at any age and every encounter with the Word of the Lord, we’re capable of joy in the Holy Spirit. It’s not a me-and-us thing at all.
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.”
Jesus brought the waiting Jewish kingdom of the righteous into heaven during his three days between the crucifixion and the resurrection. He has been bringing our ancestors into the Father’s house ever since. Being with these young men was more than a symbolic meeting between new and old minted believers. Just as in Jesus' time, we were a calculated gathering of believers, a celebration of the joyful sharing in the works of Jesus.
We need to know about the exciting missions, successful conversions, and other treasures of our kinship under the Father’s care. The Spirit gathers us through these kinds of encounters. The Son’s works reverberate from joyful, eager witnesses eager to support their brethren with tales and arguments and wonder about what’s coming next.
The last verse in Saturday’s gospel correctly joins us in wondering what we have done, are doing, and will be doing very soon.
“And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it."
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