Today is the Feast of St. Matthias.
In the Acts of the Apostles it is recorded that the Apostles prayed for guidance from the Holy Spirit and then selected Matthias to replace Judas who had taken his own life after betraying Jesus.
There was already a sense of needing some structure in the Church community even then. The understanding of the need of a Church leadership group, first initiated by Jesus, was there in the Church community, even then, around the time of Pentecost.
The belief that the Holy Spirit was guiding the early Church was also very central to the thinking of that early Christian community.
Early Christian writings following on from the scriptures talk clearly about both these understandings and beliefs of the early Church.
The structure of bishop, presbyter (priest) and deacon developed very early. There was also a belief in the many charisms or gifts that were shared by all the believers.
Structures have evolved and changed over the two-thousand years of Christian history. Some things have not changed.
• The belief that the Church is always in need of reform.
• The belief that the Church community carries in a living way the memory of Jesus.
• That conversion is an ongoing process for each individual member of the Church, as well as for communities within the Church, and the Church as a whole.
• That there is both continuity as well as new, evolving and Spirit-inspired insights into the mysteries of our faith and its practice.
Yes, we face many challenges as a Church, but we have every reason to be people of hope.
Repentance, conversion, service, humility, healing, faith, hope and love come to mind as I look at Jesus and ask for his guidance, as I pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit who renews the face of the earth.
God Bless you today.
Bishop of Darwin