During this Easter season, one of the important graces the liturgy proposes is that of growth in our life in Christ: “Increase in our minds and hearts the risen life we share with Christ and help us to grow as your people toward the fullness of eternal life with you.” Thus do we pray in the opening prayer for this second Sunday of Easter.
Increase! Grow! Fullness of eternal life! We see this happening in the first reading. The community of believers is truly concerned about one another. Through their generosity, no one is in want. More, through sacrifice, the believers are willing to sell property and homes lest their sisters and brothers in the faith lack necessities.
But there are obstacles to our spiritual growth and development. Three in particular stand out: disobedience, fear and doubt.
Growth depends upon faith and truth, gifts offered to us by the risen Lord.
Fear is a part of our human condition. It is not surprising that time and time again the historical Jesus urged the disciples not to be afraid. But they were. They were afraid of storms, afraid of nonacceptance, afraid of death. In today’s Gospel they are afraid once again as the risen Lord breaks into their lives. Jesus has to breathe on them and share his Spirit to dispel their fear as they ventured forth with great courage to deal with sin and death. They now shared with the community the gifts they had received. They began a long journey of growth and increase in the life of grace.
The third obstacle is doubt, a state of mind that paralyzes the soul, darkens the mind and sours the heart. Quickly it can turn into cynicism that leads to a wasted life. In an age of doubt, we need to expose ourselves to individuals and communities that truly believe.
The German poet Goethe got it right. “Those who have ceased to grow, find nothing right.” To prevent becoming a peevish person we must pray: “Increase in our minds and hearts the risen life we share with Christ and help us to grow as your people toward the fullness of eternal life with you.”
Questions for reflection
1. How do you measure your spiritual growth?
2. Are disobedience, fear and doubt issues you have to deal with?
3. Who are the people around you who give evidence of growth in the risen life?
Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.