Find and offer men
who love and are wise
â€œTherefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty.â€
The early Church was experiencing a need. It was growing rapidly; the disciples were increasing in number. Thatâ€™s not a bad problem to have! The apostles were spreading the word. The twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said,”It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God.â€ They were devoting themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word, but needed helpers. There are important lessons for our parish and the wider Church in this passage from Acts.
The number of disciples grew because the apostles were devoted to prayer and preaching of the word. Certainly our bishops and clergy pray and devote themselves to preaching the word, but we too must pray as Jesusâ€™ disciples. We honor our call to pray for growth in the Church by collectively raising our voices for that blessing each week and in a special way on the first Sunday of each month. We should do so at home as well, spending even less than a minute in simple prayer â€“ Lord, increase Your flock here and throughout the world.
We also pray for an increase in vocations so that the word may be solemnly proclaimed and taught. But, we too must proclaim and teach the word by living as Jesus asked AND attributing our way of living to Jesus.
Next we see that whenever problems arise we must not turn to ourselves and perpetuate the problem. Rather, we are to go to the apostles and seek their guidance. Then we are to act on their guidance trusting that the Holy Spirit guides the apostles.
The successors to the apostles, the bishops, turn to us and ask that we pick men from among our company who are reputable and filled with the Spirit and wisdom. Those who are to serve the church, spread the word, and baptize are to come from the people â€“ and we are to make sure they have good reputations and are filled with the Spirit. It is significant in our democratic tradition of Church we find and offer men who are reputable and filled with the Spirit and wisdom to serve us. We then present them before the bishops of our Church who like the apostles lay their hands on them in the sacrament of Orders by which they receive the special grace of God and gift of the Holy Spirit.
As we pray and witness, as we trust in the Church, we fulfill our duty to raise men to fulfill these roles. They are among us every week, strong men, reputable, wise, and filled with the Spirit. Their love and wisdom model for us belief in and loyalty to the One who is â€œthe way and the truth and the life.â€