In the early Church, people came to know Jesus when they understood that they were in need of a savior because they were sinful; they could not help but sin without God’s help. There was conviction in their hearts that they were not living in line with what their creator intended for them. There was conversion, repentance, and baptism, which was followed by joy in the forgiveness of their sins.
Through baptism, they understood that they died to themselves, and were raised again in the resurrection of Christ. They were no longer “I,” but Christ lived in them. They were all united. They were one in Christ. Thus, when one person hurt, the community hurt. When one was hungry, the community was hungry. They responded to this need by giving to those with less. They gave, even if it hurt the giver’s bottom line. When they gave to the point of hurting, they trusted that the community would care for them if they ran into trouble down the road.
They understood themselves to be one, and that this oneness was perpetuated and strengthen through the breaking of the Bread. They believed their bond required them to partake of the Bread for it was in the bread that Jesus, who was known to be present therein, would continuously renew them in Christ, the head of the body.
They understood that hardships and trials were a part of life, and that in Christ, they could persevere, and even find joy in surrendering to God’s will for that moment in their life. They trusted God to guide them in the Spirit, and to give them the heroic courage to face even the most horrific challenges. In fact, legend speaks of St. Lawrence, who was roasted alive over an open pit. He is said to have told his persecutors that he was done on one side, and needed to be turned over. What humor amidst such pain and horror!
It is this kind of faith to which God calls us. We cannot live a life in God if we do not walk in the Spirit. How can we better incorporate the works of the Spirit into our lives today? I’m sure others have some better ideas, but here are mine: Invite the Spirit into your day many times throughout the day. Consider setting an alarm to remind you to renew this invitation. Look for the slight tugs within that call you to the greater good. Look for the slight nudges towards helping a person who may be in need. When in doubt, go with the good choice that you desire to do least. Afterwards, prayerfully reflect on the event, and see what you can learn from it in hindsight; see what you can learn about the Spirit’s method of communicating with you. Take that knowledge into tomorrow where you will repeat the process, and continue to grow in wisdom of how God works within you.