In this morning’s scripture from the New Testament Book of Acts, we are introduced to Apollos, a disciple of the Lord Jesus who would become a person of great influence in the early Church.
Apollos is introduced to us as a man who can eloquently speak and teach about the Lord Jesus, but who does not possess the fullness of the apostolic faith. What he has to say about the Lord Jesus is true, but it is also incomplete. Further, Apollos has not received the baptism of the Church, and as such, does not share in the fullness of the Church’s way of life. Two disciples, Priscilla and Aquila, who are friends of St. Paul, introduce themselves to Apollos, and share with him the teachings about Christ and the Church they have received from St. Paul.
There are two aspects to the Church’s missionary project. One aspect is to introduce people who do not know the Lord to Christ and invite them to share Christ’s gifts in the Church. The other aspect is to invite those who know of Christ to share in the fullness of the apostolic faith. There are many disciples of Christ, who, like Apollos, know the Lord, but not in the fullest sense of how Christ wants to be known in relation to his Church.
Christ wants people to know him in the Church, learn the apostolic teaching about the Lord and to experience and receive his life and presence in the Sacraments. When Christians are gathered together into the community that we call a parish, the purpose of this gathering and parish to make the Lord Jesus known and invite people to know Christ in the Church. The Church is not an optional add on to one’s relationship with Christ, but is integral and necessary.
Those who know and experience Christ in his Church have as their mission to share what they know and experience with others. Like Priscilla and Aquila, our efforts to introduce people to Christ must be intentional. Disciples do not believe that knowing and experiencing Christ in his Church should simply be left to chance or delegated to an elite corps of believers.
The Church grows through introduction and invitation and disciples are the ones who make the introduction and extend the invitation.
Who have you introduced to Christ? Who have you invited to share a relationship with Christ in his Church?
Christ the Lord speaks again about his departure. His disciples will no longer know him in the manner that he presented himself to them in the mystery of his Incarnation. He will present his life and presence to them in a new kind of Body, the Body of the Church. It is through the Body of the Church that Christ presents himself to the world and invites people to be his disciples.
Christ the Lord assures us that through his Body, the Church, he will continue to care for us and act on our behalf. He hears and attends to our prayers with the same concern that he manifested when he heard and attended to the needs of those disciples who knew him in the flesh of his Incarnation.
Christ has not abandoned us. He has not become merely an idea or feeling or memory. He extends the power and presence of his Incarnation throughout history in the Church and it is through his Church that he is present, active and working for our salvation and for the salvation of the world.