May 15, 2020
On the Acts of the Apostles (And Our Indispensable Role in the Mission)
by Pete Ascosi
Sometimes when I look at the apostolic giants in the New Testament, like St. Peter and St. Paul, it leaves me feeling like I'm not doing enough. Or that what I am doing pales in comparison to preaching in front of great crowds, like St. Peter, or bringing entire towns to know the Lord through signs and wonders like, St. Paul.
Five years ago, my wife, Ally, was pregnant with our fourth child during the season of Easter. As we prayed about a name for our son, we couldn’t help thinking about the many fascinating people we meet in Acts of the Apostles. In particular we were drawn to the "supporting" characters of this dramatic telling of the life of the early Church. People like Priscilla and Aquila, Silas, John Mark, Ananias, and Tabitha, among others.
The Holy Spirit brought to our attention the absolutely essential role of the more "minor" actors. Each of these men and women, in their own way, with the unique gifts and talents God gave them, helped the great apostolic figures like Peter and Paul spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Roman Empire.
In his Letters, St. Paul reminds the early Christian communities time and time again that each person has an essential role to play in the Body of Christ, "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" (1 Corinthians 12:7).
The Catechism tells us that the gifts of the Holy Spirit "whether extraordinary or simple and humble" should be received with gratitude. "They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ" (#799-800).
ChristLife's mission—to help all people know Jesus personally as Lord and become his committed disciples—depends on each of us using our natural abilities AND the Holy Spirit's supernatural gifts for the sake of the salvation of souls!
Evangelizing with the ChristLife courses over the last 13 years has taught me that every team member is crucial. From administrators to facilitators to childcare workers to greeters to cooks to evangelizers—every role is indispensable for the work of evangelization to be fruitful!
The same is true in our everyday lives as we scatter the seeds of God's Word to our family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, grocery store clerks, etc. We all have a role to play in opening people to the saving message of the Gospel.
As indispensable as our gifts are in building up the Church and her mission, we must never forget that God alone causes the growth. As St. Paul tells us, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth" (1 Corinthians 3:6). It is ultimately his work and we must ask to be initiated into it. Pope Benedict reminds us:
"The first word, the true initiative, the true activity comes from God and only by inserting ourselves into the divine initiative, only by begging this divine initiative, will we too be able to become—with him and in him—evangelizers" (October 8, 2012).
So, what did we name our son? In the end we chose the name Silas, who in his own right was a pivotal figure in Acts. Along with Barsabbas, he was recognized as a leader in the early Christian community and a prophet (Acts 15:22,32). He also accompanied Paul on at least one missionary journey where he was imprisoned in Philippi, only to be released after an earthquake erupted while they were "praying and singing hymns to God" (Acts 16:25).
Our Silas was born on May 24, 2015, Pentecost Sunday—an extra special blessing from "the Lord and giver of Life." And like his namesake, St. Silas, we are praying that our son grows up full of the Holy Spirit, contributing in his own way to the Church's essential mission of evangelization.