In the time of the early Christians, we can see that the community of believers was one in heart and mind. They were living fully the ideal of sharing everything they have. There’s great power in the way the Apostles bore witness to the Risen Christ, and it was a time of exceptional grace. There was no needy person, and they were living fully trusting and confident of the credibility of the Apostles.
Being in such a condition didn’t happen easily as after the resurrection not everyone believed like the doubting Thomas. His doubt though was not insecurity, but rather born out of fearlessness, an uncompromising honesty demanding sight and physical contact with Jesus as a condition for his belief. Thomas is the present version of the absentee person when Jesus first appeared to them, resulting to his unbelief. However, we know that after this, Thomas became a strong follower of Christ. (This incident wasn’t the only one attributed to Thomas; another example of his questioning spirit is when Christ told the disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them to which they also might come because they knew both the place and the way. Thomas pleaded that they did not understand, and so received the beautiful assurance that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.)
This situation is a reminder that it is difficult for us to believe when we do not strengthen ourselves with the fellowship of other believers. Growing in faith, it is important for us to move out of our comfort zones and link with other believers. When we’re out of a community, we lack the support group that helps us sustain and nurture our faith. Without a community, we can get lost, we can get overwhelmed, and we won’t be able to inspire others as well.
In the first few days that my family moved after being assigned in Manila, we were blessed with the community that welcomed us, cared for us, and helped make our transition in the big city an easier one. In just a few months, we had integrated ourselves fully in the Couples for Christ community of then North 37. Reminiscing those times made me really appreciate the value of community in our spiritual growth. It has helped us gain new friends that have stayed with us like family since then. Today, these friendships and love have deepened our commitment in building families renewing the face of the earth. This also affirms that Jesus uses the Church as the earthly means of continuing His mission of spreading the Good News.
The Church also needs Jesus as its source of power and authority and it becomes Christ’s authentic messenger only if it is obedient and faithful to Him. The Apostles were given the authority to forgive sins in His Name, a mandate being continued unbroken by the Catholic Church up to this day. As Jesus said,
“Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (Jn. 20: 23).
This gives the Apostles (and their successors the bishops and priests) the authority to forgive sins in His Name. This implies the power of imparting God’s Divine Mercy to the sinner, the gift of forgiving sins from God’s abundance of love and mercy.
With gratitude and thanksgiving, we fervently pray that God grant us the faith and the grace to overcome the lures of this world.
“Give thanks to the Lord, who is good, whose love endures forever.” (Ps. 118: 1)