The Pastor Speaks …..
A "New Community," the "followers of the way!"
At Easter celebrations we the members of the Church, the People of God are offered the joy of renewing our Baptismal life. Those of us who truly renewed our baptismal promises are supposed to live a new life in Christ. A fresh beginning to live as baptized people. It is both personal and communitarian. This newness has to be evident to ourselves in our personal life and in the community in the new initiatives we take to implement the teachings of our faith in our life. We are supposed to be like our first generation Christians whose "new life' they embraced was so evident that others outside the Christian fold could see, recognize, and appreciate the "new way,' the Christian way of life. This way was different and the followers were different and distant from the rest. They attracted and influenced others that seeing them many began to embrace this new way. This new way also challenged and threatened the "old (or other) way' to such an extent that they started persecuting the followers of this new way! Jesus Christ is the source and foundation of this "new way" We in the Christian community today are supposed to be followers of this "Way of Christ" in our today's world! Post Easter days remind us of the first generation Christians and Christian Communities inviting us to see if we are striving to be followers of this "Way of Jesus Christ."
Most Rev. Dr. Prakash Mallavarapu D.D
A New Community emerged with members 'born anew" in "Water and Spirit: In the days after Easter the liturgy of the Word of God draws our attention to the Risen Lord who visits his disciples, the Eleven, and others who believed and followed Him before His passion and death on the Cross.With His resurrection something new and extraordinary has begun in a tangible way! The selected readings from the Acts of the Apostles tell us about the life of this new community of believers in Jesus of Nazareth proclaimed as the Messiah, Savior and Lord. This new Community had some unique features that distinguished them from the Jewish Community to which they belonged: faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the Lord and Savior, one who was crucified and died, but now is risen from the dead and is alive. This faith leads them to repentance and change of heart, and to receive baptism. With that there is the commencement of a new way of living. Two things in particular, distinguished this new community from the rest: one, their way of life, "sharing" and living in "communion" with one another; two, their coming together for the "the breaking of bread" and "sharing in the Cup" in memory of the death and resurrection of their Lord and Savior, who "gave up His body in sacrifice" and who "poured out His blood for the remission of sins." The new community lived under the guidance of the Apostles with Saint Peter as the leader. They were the primary witnesses of Jesus Christ who lived among the people of the time and died on the Cross, was buried but raised: He is alive after His resurrection!
Pentecost was the "Day of Public Witness" to Jesus whom they believed: The "new" and the "different" WAY that is taught and proclaimed by Jesus Christ in His words and actions was set before these disciples, especially the "TWELVE," and they "left everything" and followed this Master, Jesus of Nazareth. The arrest, the condemnation, and His death on the cross, interrupted the journey of these disciples: the Master died and was buried . And the question before them, naturally, was "what next?" and "how?" We should note here one fact: "They did not altogether abandon their Master and Lord!" On the contrary, they were huddling together though sad, confused, anxious and afraid! We should say, they found themselves at "the crossroads!" But, the Proclamation of the Good News of the Kingdom inaugurated in and by Jesus Christ has to be taken forward They were small in number at the beginning held together by their faith in Jesus of Nazareth, as the "Messiah," the fulfillment of the "Promise" made to their fathers through the prophets. Empowered in the Holy Spirit, renewed and strengthened in their faith by their encounters with the Risen Christ, they launch their mission of proclaiming to the people the truth about Jesus of Nazareth: he is truly the Messiah, Christos and Kyrios, the one who saves His people from their sins. This was their mission! It is not just proclaiming the truth about Jesus of Nazareth but it was the transformation of their life, their way of thinking and the way of living their life, individually and collectively: ready to live and die for their faith in Christ. Communion and fellowship in love, sharing their goods and possessions with others, etc. were the visible signs manifested in this new Community of believers. They were men and women on mission!
The Synod 2021-2023 and the Synodal process that is initiated by the Church under the guidance and leadership of our Holy Father Pope Francis is actually calling on us, the members of the Church, individually and as communities to see if what characterized the Apostolic Community could be re-discoved: "Communion, Participation, and Mission. We have lost the dynamic of being Christian communities following "the way of Christ" which is different and unique, which is challenging and demanded change, conversion and transformation. How do we want to be the Church today? This question is not easy to answer but we have to face this question. Only then there is some chance for reaping the expected fruits of the Synod 2021 - 2023 and synodal process, and become a "Synodal Church." We appreciate how the "Early Christians and Christian Communities" strived to follow the "Way of Christ,' the Christian way, and how they were prepared to sacrifice and suffer for the what they found in "the new way' with new attitudes and a new way of relating to God and to one another,
Dear priests, men and women religious, and the lay faithful, it is time to come with concrete initiatives as a response to the call of the Synod 2021 - 2023 in order to be a Christian community where "Communion, Participation, and Mission" are evidently present The real challenge is the change and conversion for becoming the Synodal Church. This change and conversion has to be at every level! Given the kind of long history behind us and the inherited attitudes towards the Church and our life in the Church, it might truly look that this change and conversion are very difficult. But, in the Risen Christ we all should believe and say, "well, it is difficult and challenging but it is possible" and therefore, we must take initiatives in concrete ways to be a Church in which there is the dynamic of "Communion, Participation, and Mission." Where do we start? With oneself and with the local community to which we belong to. It is not doing what we want but what we need to do as a Christian community.
This is what Vademecum for the Synod on Synodality says: : In this sense, it is clear that the purpose of this Synod is not produce more documents Rather, it is intended to inspire people to dream about the church we are called to be, to make people's hopes flourish, to stimulate trust, to bind up wounds, to weave new and deeper relationship, to learn from one another, to build bridges, to enlighten minds, warm hearts, and restore strength to our hands for our common mission (PD,32). Thus the objective of this Synodal Process is not only a series of exercises that start and stop, but rather a journey of growing authentically towards the communion and mission that God calls the Church to live out in the third millennium.This journey together will call on us to renew our mentalities and our ecclesial structures in order to live out God's call for the Church amid the present signs of the times. Listening to the entire People of God will help the Church to make pastoral decisions that correspond as closely as possible to God's will(ITC, Syn., 68) The ultimate perspective to orient this synodal path of the Church is to serve the dialogue of God with humanity (DV,2) and to journey together for the kingdom of God (cf. LG, 9; RM,20). In the end, this Synodal 6 † Prakash Mallavarapu Archbishop of Visakhapatnam Process seeks to move towards a Church that is more fruitfully at the service of the coming of the kingdom of heaven."
Conclusion: "Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions,, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means "son of encouragement") He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet." (Acts 4:32-37)
† Prakash Mallavarapu, Archbishop of Visakhapatnam