Our first reading shows the church developing different ministries, not leaving everything to the apostles, but electing people take responsibility for different tasks in the life of the church, like getting deacons to look after the distribution of food to those in need, leaving the apostles free to preach and pray.
The second reading says we all share in Christ’s priesthood and his mission: each one of us is a living stone, together making the church into a spiritual home for all who need it. Jesus tells us in the Gospel not to be afraid but to trust him and to trust the Father, who will enable us to do even greater things than Jesus himself did.
The fifth set of suggestions from our Lenten groups was about taking action for justice. They mentioned food wastage and zero hours contracts and suggested starting up a Justice and Peace Group, working with our local schools to get ‘Romero status’ and reviving the SVP.
On Saturday I was with five of our parishioners at the first meeting of a Partner Church Project with Church Action on Poverty. We learned how untrue are some of the current myths about ‘scroungers’ and public spending on benefits, we faced some uncomfortable truths about the unequal distribution of wealth in our country, and we heard of the good work being done by foodbanks and advice centres. But the most powerful thing was when people started sharing their own stories and those of people they knew. Church Action on Poverty listens to the stories of people living in poverty, identifies common issues that come up, chooses some issues where action can make a difference and then finds ways for the people living in poverty to tell their stories directly to those who have the power to change the situation, whether they are politicians, local officials or the chief executives of companies providing services like loans, housing or energy.
Action for justice is a vital part of the mission of our parish. We already have some parishioners deeply involved in this work, but we need more. If you are living in poverty or you work with those who do, if you are a good listener, if you are concerned about the injustice in our society, then joining this listening campaign may be how the Lord is calling you to build up his kingdom.