This reflection is the first in a crossover series of bulletin articles which are being placed in all our bulletins leading up to the Feast of Pentecost. Fr Nord will provide the reflection next week and Fr Hopmeir will offer the reflection on May 21. WE have been preparing for "All Things New"; now we are living it. The opportunities for fellowship and worship have been a beautiful beginning to our new life in Christ. All of us are invited now, like Stephen, to respond to the call of ministry for the building up of the community of our local Church.
Today, we hear the story of St. Stephen's call and ordination to the sacred diaconate. Now we accompany him in a journey which will mean becoming powerful witnesses to the Gospel and the surrender of our lives for Christ. As we embark on this new chapter of our journey together, it is important for us to ask the questions which surely occurred to Stephen: "How can I help solve these problems? What is Jesus asking of me? Lord, please help me". As the story unfolds in the Acts of the Apostles, Stephen is soon arrested and put on trial which leads to his preaching the whole of the Gospel most eloquently in Chapter 7, concluding with his profound mirroring of Christ on the cross: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them (7:60)". We are called right here and now, to witness God's glory and risk everything for this next chapter of our journey as disciples; we are called to the ministry of St. Stephen, the protomartyr.
At our gathering of parish leadership on April 26th, one of you shared to important insight that we must be willing to leave behind our individual parishes in order to truly become a new faith community. We certainly do need to leave behind our own will in search of God's will for us. And it is important that we bring the legacy of faith which has sustained us up until this moment. We gather together in the spirit of John the Baptist who proclaims: "Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand; He must increase, I must decrease; Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." We let the depth of Stephen's preaching and his sacrifice, tough the depths of our own souls. And in this month of May, memorable as it will be for us, we dedicate ourselves again and ever more deeply, to Mary and her Immaculate Heart which always and everywhere beats in rhythm with the Sacred Heart of Christ.
Fr. Mitch Doyen, Pastor
St. John the Baptist Parish