My dad, Don, who passed away in 2016, set a truly fine example of faith for his nine children. Even amid a busy job and a big family, he and my mom made time for 6:30 a.m. Mass every day before heading off to work. Their practice of setting aside time for the Lord each morning has become a pattern that my wife, Jeannie, and I have taken up.
But for Mom and Dad, worshipping the Lord at Mass was a fairly solitary practice. Although other parishioners were there, Mass was usually a time for them to be alone with the Lord.
A Family of Faith. As beautiful as my parents’ devotion was, it was a little different from the experience of the first Christians. One result of receiving the Spirit at Pentecost was their deep desire to become a community of brothers and sisters in the Lord. They shared sabbath meals together, they worshipped together, they shared their goods with one another, and they served alongside one another. This was the beginning of the Church—Jesus’ plan to gather his people together as “the family of the faith” (Galatians 6:10).
If you look at the New Testament, you’ll notice that most of the letters that Peter, Paul, and the others wrote were addressed not to individuals but to entire churches. Why? Because the apostles understood that God doesn’t want any of his children to journey alone. He wants all of us to taste and see the goodness of sharing our lives with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
The phrase “one another” occurs about one hundred times in the New Testament. We are called to “love one another” (John 13:34), to show concern for “building up one another” (Romans 14:19) and “forgiving one another” (Colossians 3:13), to “serve one another” (Galatians 5:13), to “bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), to “encourage one another” (I Thessalonians 5:11), to “pray for one another” (James 5:16), and to “be hospitable to one another” (1 Peter 4:9). Clearly, Christianity isn’t just about following Christ. It’s about walking with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Of course, we may feel as if we are journeying alone at times. We may even feel as if the Lord is far from us. But during this Easter season, the risen Christ wants to draw us closer to our brothers and sisters. Whether you are part of a vibrant parish or you are all by yourself, ask the Lord for the grace of community. Look for people who can encourage you, build you up, and even forgive you when needed! And be ready to offer those same blessings to them.
“Lord, bless each of us with a deeper sense of being part of your family, the people of God!”