Faithful to the Fellowship
Last week we began to look at the contemporary significance of the following passage from the Acts of the Apostles: “These (the first Christians) remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers” (Acts 2.42).
Last week we looked at the first of the things that those early Christians were called to be faithful to – the teaching of the apostles which we have had handed down to us in the New Testament and in the gospels in particular. This week let us look at the second of those things – the fellowship which we would identify with the community of faith – the Church.
From the beginning, the followers of Jesus were a group. The choosing of the 12 was a deliberate continuation of the idea of their being a people like the people of the Old Testament with its 12 tribes. And to maintain that reality, the first Christians brought the number of the apostles up to 12 again after the defection of Judas. They do so by electing Mathias to replace him.
In all the newness and the necessary finding of their way ahead which was part of those earliest years, the gathering of the community remained crucial. They belonged together.
This remains a reality of our faith still. We need each other and we belong in the community of faith. This is part of our very identity. It is especially important today as we seek to live out our faith in a society which socially, culturally and politically does not include faith in God in its ethos. We can feel outsiders in such a social situation and we need the witness of each other’s faith to sustain and encourage us. We need the community of faith – the Church – to be gathered around us so that we know that we are not on the journey of faith alone.
Despite the difficulties that there can undoubtedly be within the life of the Church in its various parishes and communities, there is a crucial need for us to be accompanied in our faith by believing sisters and brothers.
This emphasis on the fellowship of community of faith finds its major manifestation in the Sunday Eucharist which from the beginning has been central to the life of Christ’s followers. We will look at that next week.
By Fr Frank O’Loughlin