Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables.Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.”
What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today’s first reading from Acts reminds us that God is not calling us to do everything. The twelve apostles had walked with Jesus for years during his earthly ministry. They had been sent out two by two to preach the good news. They encountered, spoke with, and ate with the Risen Christ. They had been commissioned to spread the Gospel and had received the Holy Spirit. And yet they still weren’t able to do everything.
The message to us is clear. We are each called to respond to God’s invitation to co-labor in the kingdom. But this doesn’t mean we have to do everything ourselves. The twelve taught, preached, and served, but there came a time when the tasks became too numerous. So they commissioned others. They didn’t let their work stop at what twelve people were capable of doing. Rather, they put aside any ego they had and allowed others to step up as leaders as well.
What in my life do I need to put down in order to let others serve? Who might I invite to share in a task that has become too big for me?
—The Jesuit Prayer team
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
—Excerpt of the Prophets of a Future Not Our Own prayer by Bishop Ken Untener, often attributed to Blessed Oscar Romero
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