Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Study through Acts: Lesson Two

Chapter 2:1-28

Like the introduction and chapter one, chapter two (and each succeeding outline) will give you opportunity to reflect on the Biblical texts and portions of the Catechism and other sources germane to those texts. Perhaps you might place these outlines and your written answers in a binder for future review. It usually takes us an hour of class time each Monday evening to discuss only a few verses. For example, as I post this outline, the group is about to begin chapter 9, and we are into week 21. I invite you to join the study group at St. Charles Borromeo in Tacoma, if you are in the area.

Now, for lesson two:

2:1-13     What might verse 13 suggest?  See 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 14:1-5; 20-24.
                Is there a lesson here for us today? If so, what is it?

2:14-21  Now compare Ephesians 5:15-18; Luke 11:9-13. What is the purpose of all the charisms? (See CCC 799-801. Please review my comments within the CCC paragraphs). 

Note also in this section the class of people spoken of by Joel. What does that suggest? How does that information dovetail with the Church’s mandate to be missionary focused? (See again CCC 767-768, 849-856 and, again, 799-801. (Please review my comments within the CCC paragraphs).

2:22-23   Now compare Acts 3:18; 4:27-28. Now see Proverbs 21:1 with Luke 2:1-2 and Isaiah 40:15-17; Matthew 25:33-34; 1 Peter 1:17-20.  What is the application of all these texts to our lives?

2:24     “But God . . .”  What is the application of those two words to your life?  Review Isaiah 40:15-17; Eph 2:1-4 for further insight.

2:25-28  What if we ‘saw’ Him with eyes of faith?  Or, as St. Patrick understood:

 . . . Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger . . .

See also my essay here:  http://thecontemplativecatholicconvert.blogspot.com/2010/08/my-first-thought.html

(We will continue chapter two next time)

Catechism Paragraphs (the superscript numbers refer to footnotes within the Catechism. Click on the paragraph links to be taken to the actual Catechism pages)

799 Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world.

800 Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms.253 (What does this mean to you?)

801 It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church's shepherds. "Their office [is] not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good,"254 so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together "for the common good."255 (What does this mean to you? What is the application of this paragraph regarding your own charism?)

767 "When the work which the Father gave the Son to do on earth was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that he might continually sanctify the Church."174 Then "the Church was openly displayed to the crowds and the spread of the Gospel among the nations, through preaching, was begun."175 As the "convocation" of all men for salvation, the Church in her very nature is missionary, sent by Christ to all the nations to make disciples of them.176 (What does the phrase, “The Church in her very nature is missionary” imply to you? Is there an application for your life?)

768 So that she can fulfill her mission, the Holy Spirit "bestows upon [the Church] varied hierarchic and charismatic gifts, and in this way directs her."177 "Henceforward the Church, endowed with the gifts of her founder and faithfully observing his precepts of charity, humility and self-denial, receives the mission of proclaiming and establishing among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God, and she is on earth the seed and the beginning of that kingdom."178

849 The missionary mandate. "Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be 'the universal sacrament of salvation,' the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men":339 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age."340 (As part of the Church, what does this paragraph mean to you?)

850 The origin and purpose of mission. The Lord's missionary mandate is ultimately grounded in the eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity: "The Church on earth is by her nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, she has as her origin the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit."341 The ultimate purpose of mission is none other than to make men share in the communion between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of love.342

851 Missionary motivation. It is from God's love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigor of her missionary dynamism, "for the love of Christ urges us on."343 Indeed, God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth";344 that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God's universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary. (“The Church must be missionary” – how does this apply to you?  How can you be part of this missionary mandate of Christ?)

852 Missionary paths. The Holy Spirit is the protagonist, "the principal agent of the whole of the Church's mission."345 It is he who leads the Church on her missionary paths. "This mission continues and, in the course of history, unfolds the mission of Christ, who was sent to evangelize the poor; so the Church, urged on by the Spirit of Christ, must walk the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice even to death, a death from which he emerged victorious by his resurrection."346 So it is that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians."347 (Did Jesus intend for the missionary path mandated for all Christians to be an easy path? How does it become manageable, do you think?)

853 On her pilgrimage, the Church has also experienced the "discrepancy existing between the message she proclaims and the human weakness of those to whom the Gospel has been entrusted."348 Only by taking the "way of penance and renewal," the "narrow way of the cross," can the People of God extend Christ's reign.349 For "just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and oppression, so the Church is called to follow the same path if she is to communicate the fruits of salvation to men."350

854 By her very mission, "the Church . . . travels the same journey as all humanity and shares the same earthly lot with the world: she is to be a leaven and, as it were, the soul of human society in its renewal by Christ and transformation into the family of God."351 Missionary endeavor requires patience. It begins with the proclamation of the Gospel to peoples and groups who do not yet believe in Christ,352 continues with the establishment of Christian communities that are "a sign of God's presence in the world,"353 and leads to the foundation of local churches.354 It must involve a process of inculturation if the Gospel is to take flesh in each people's culture.355 There will be times of defeat. "With regard to individuals, groups, and peoples it is only by degrees that [the Church] touches and penetrates them and so receives them into a fullness which is Catholic."356 (Are we to be inculturated by the culture around us, or are we to inculturate the culture with our faith, love of God and walk of holiness? How can you do that?)

855 The Church's mission stimulates efforts towards Christian unity.357 Indeed, "divisions among Christians prevent the Church from realizing in practice the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her sons who, though joined to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all its aspects."358 (What groups do you think this paragraph refers to? How might the divisions in the Body of Christ be healed?  What might be your part in that healing?)

856 The missionary task implies a respectful dialogue with those who do not yet accept the Gospel.359 Believers can profit from this dialogue by learning to appreciate better "those elements of truth and grace which are found among peoples, and which are, as it were, a secret presence of God."360 They proclaim the Good News to those who do not know it, in order to consolidate, complete, and raise up the truth and the goodness that God has distributed among men and nations, and to purify them from error and evil "for the glory of God, the confusion of the demon, and the happiness of man."361


Lagniappe said...

Hi Old Friend,

Much work in place with your study is obvious. I believe your group would be very interesting and time well spent.

I guess I may be ahead of your Chapter Two continuance, but vs 25-28 must be tied with the following text through 36. Ps 16 and Ps 110:1 are paramount. Peter's OT comprehension is not because of a sudden spiritual power alone, but he, and the others, would have learned these from the Master (though, as it often pointed out in the Gospels, they did not understand until the Resurrection). Cf w/4:13 - no pedigree but knowledge learned and brought to fruition by the Holy Spirit. My analogy is we (today) cannot advance the Kingdom if we have not studied the Word and related writings. The Holy Spirit does not use osmosis but the mind and the heart.

Keep up the faithful ministry.


Richard Maffeo said...

Thanks too for your insights, Bob. I will add to my next post in a week or so. Always glad to get others' thoughts!