Immersed in Christ: May 23, 2020
Saturday, Week Six of Easter
In Acts 18: 23-28 we meet Apollos, a Jew who “knew only the baptism of John,” but was “well-versed in the scriptures, instructed in the Way of the Lord, spoke with burning enthusiasm, and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus.” When the Christian community heard him speak, they “took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately,” and encouraged him in his ministry.
Apollos reminds us of what Baptism commits us to do. We are not all eloquent speakers, but there is no excuse for any of us not to be “well-versed in the scriptures, instructed in the Way of the Lord,” and filled with “burning enthusiasm” to spread the Good News. Whether or not it was ever impressed on us, we are all called to be evangelizers, because “the Church exists to evangelize,” and we are the Church. 1
To evangelize, we don’t have to stand up and preach, or go door-to-door explaining our religion to strangers. But we do have to desire to spread the Good News. This does not mean telling people about Church doctrines — although, when asked, we should be able, like Apollos, to explain “accurately the things concerning Jesus.” The most important thing is to share our experience of Jesus Christ, because that is our true experience of the Good News, and without that no discussions about doctrine are going to get anywhere. It is not what we know that reaches hearts, but what we are. If what we are has been transformed by our personal interaction with Jesus Christ, we have good news to share. And will want to.
In John 16: 23-28 Jesus emphasizes the difference between religion that informs and religion that transforms. He tells his apostles, who had heard him preach for three years, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.” They have prayed as “followers” of Jesus or as “disciples” (“students”). But they did not know the transformation of “becoming Christ” by dying and rising with him in Baptism to live henceforth as his risen body on earth. This is a mystery; the mystery of our lives that transforms everything we do.
Before receiving the divine life of God and the “gift of the Spirit” through Baptism and Confirmation, we only knew about the Father. But now, with the Spirit of Jesus the Son crying out “Abba! Father!” in our hearts, Christ “tells us plainly of the Father.” His Father and ours. 2
At every Mass, during the Presentation of Gifts, the liturgy invites us to re-commit consciously to Christ and to the life of grace. This makes us more aware of the difference between just being baptized and accepting Baptism with increasing understanding as we mature in both human and divine life. Experience teaches us what it means to “be Christ.” As we enter more deeply and consciously into that experience, we become able to share the Good News.
Initiative: Identify your experience of Christ. As you see it, share it.
1 Paul VI, Evangelization in the Modern World,”14. 2 Romans 8:16; Galatians 4:6.