Reflecting on Acts 13: 14, 43-52
What is the actual birthday of the Church? I’ve heard several theories. Some hold firmly to March 25th, the feast day of the Annunciation to Mary. Yes, they say. The day Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb is the birthday of the Church.
Others say the Church was born that terrible day on Calvary, when Jesus gave his mother to the Disciple Whom he Loved, and that Disciple to his Mother. In other words, Jesus gave his Mother to us, the Church. Happy birthday, Church.
Others say it was the moment, after his death, when the Roman soldiers pierced his side with a lance, and blood (the Eucharist), and water (Baptism) flowed out. The Sacraments flowing from his side—that was the day the Church was born.
The most common choice, of course, is Pentecost. The day the Holy Spirit swept over the believers assembled in Jerusalem, filling them with inspiration and joy, was surely the birth of the Church.
But listen carefully, in these post-Resurrection weeks, to the accounts from Acts of what was going on in the lives of the eyewitnesses in the immediate weeks, months and years after the Resurrection. They had seen the Lord. And nothing—not even the cruelest of tortures and deaths, which all but one of the Twelve endured —would stop them from proclaiming the Risen One.
And it wasn’t just those who had known Jesus while he was on earth who were on fire for him. Paul “saw the Lord,” and his fellow-martyr Barnabas “saw” Jesus through faith.
The Church came to birth, in my opinion, with the martyrs, who were willing to die rather than say they had not seen the Lord.
On Good Shepherd Sunday, how do you “see” and “hear’ Jesus?
Kathy McGovern ©2022