As I have said for several weeks now, this is really a delightful time of the liturgical year starting Sunday after Sunday with excerpts from Acts of the Apostles that enables us to jump over 2,000 years and in a sense walk with the very first followers of Jesus, the first Christians.
One of the reasons that I enjoy this experience so much is that it shows that although 2,000 years have elapsed since the scenes described in Acts, the problems in the Church continue and because the Church is so much bigger the problems tend to be larger as well. In today’s excerpt, you have the apostles complaining that logistical responsibilities get in the way of their prayer and preaching. “Is there a pastor with a soul so dead who never to himself has said this is my own, my native land….” Oops. This wonderful poem doesn’t really fit there. But pastors do complain about administrative responsibilities that block them from more effective ministry. I don’t believe that this was ever very true. The Church of yesterday often found it far easier to “run the parish” than to study scripture and prepare great homilies, but they did have an excuse because they had virtually no staff.
In my parish at All Saints in the 1930’s, the staff consisted of three priests, eight sisters and a janitor. There were no secretaries, no professional counselors, no business managers. Today, however, things are very different. Larger parishes at least are so much better staffed can we assume that the preaching has improved tremendously? Let’s hope.
Oops. I almost forgot about the deacons. Today’s first reading tells us how this level of Holy Orders came into being. It was to help the Church run more effectively. It was wonderful that the Second Vatican Council re-established the diaconate. Isn’t it interesting that there are three levels of ordination in the Church? They are bishops, priests and deacons, and the deacons have been around longer than the priests!
Onward through the fog.