Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Roger J. Landry

4/9/2013 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

The life of the early Christian community shows us how to live the newness of life to which the Risen Jesus calls us.


By Fr. Roger J. Landry

Catholic Online (

4/9/2013 (3 years ago)

Published in Year of Faith

FALL RIVER, MA (Catholic Online). "You must be born from above," Jesus tells Nicodemus in today's Gospel and tells each of us.

Jesus was lifted up on Good Friday like a serpent in the desert and exalted from the dead on Easter Sunday in order, as he informs us, so that we might in fact be born from above and through that grace and a faithful response have eternal life.

That eternal life - the world's greatest offer - is not something that is exclusively a post-mortem retirement prize but something that is experienced, embryonically, right now.

As St. Paul announced to us at the Easter Vigil in the epistle from his Letter to the Romans, through baptism we enter into Christ's death and resurrection so that we might walk in newness of life - in other words, so that we might be born anew from above and experience now a foretaste of that life in its fullness to which baptism and the journey of faith leads.

This Year of Faith is meant to help us precisely to experience this spiritual rebirth by grace from above. It's meant to lead us to experience a resurrection together with Jesus. It's supposed to introduce us here and now into the eternal life of God, which Jesus defined as knowing in a personal way the Father and the Son whom the Father has sent, and abiding in God's life and allowing God to abide in ours.

The reality is that for many Catholics, the Year of Faith and the celebration of its high point - Easter - has left them basically unchanged. The tapers that were ignited by Christ's paschal triumph over the darkness of sin and death have been extinguished. The holy water with which they were sprinkled as a renewal of our baptismal promises and graces has dried up. Their Lenten reforms are part of a distant past.

Rather than experiencing the revolution that happened in the lives of Mary Magdalene, Peter and John, the disciples on the road to Emmaus and doubting Thomas - rather than newness of life and a spiritual renaissance by grace - most have reverted to the "same old, same old" life they had before.

What would the new life Jesus describes to Nicodemus look like? We see several of its markers in today's first reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

St. Luke describes for us several things that marked the new life of Christian faith in the early Church. The Spirit who blows where he wills was breathing into the first Christians a way of life that was so new, realistic, and beautiful that many were busting down the doors of the early Church to enter in order to have a piece of that life.

The first element we see is how familial the early Church was. They were of "one mind and heart." Since they knew they had been raised in Christ, the minds and hearts sought the things that are above. They experienced a real fruit of communion that exceeded unanimity in thoughts and desires; it was so strong that no one claimed any possessions as his own but they had everything in common.

This was not proto-communism, which forcibly takes others goods to distribute them among all. It was totally voluntarily as Christians did what members of any loving family do: they pooled their resources in order to strengthen and family and care for those in most need. Rather than selfishly and suspiciously holding on to their own things and sharing just a portion of their goods, they sold their property and houses and confidently gave the proceeds to the Apostles, trusting that the Holy Spirit would guide the Apostles to distribute those goods to care for the good of the entire spiritual family.

It's hard to overstate the amount of reborn faith such actions entailed. Today, many Christians, even though they profess the theological virtues, place more of their faith, hope and love in money and the pseudo-security that money provides.

The first Christians were impelled not just to share from their surplus but all they had with other not only because of genuine fraternal love but also because they believed Jesus when he taught that they shouldn't worry about food, drink, clothing and shelter because God the Father knows what they need and cares for them more than the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. They had found a treasure buried in a field that relativized all former treasures.

But that was just the beginning of their common, family, risen life of faith. Later St. Luke tells us earlier in the Acts of the Apostles that they were devoted to all form of communion: to the apostles' teaching, to prayer in the Temple and elsewhere, to sharing meals in their homes, and to the Eucharist that was making them one body, one spirit, one mind and one heart in Christ.

St. Luke tells us that this risen life of sacrificial familial love was so attractive that the "Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." The ancient world had never seen a life like the Christians before. It was rare for people to sacrifice everything even for family members; the Christians were sacrificing everything for those who before baptism may have been complete strangers. The human heart, however, is made for love, and when they saw this type of real love, the love to which Christians are born from above, they were drawn to experience it themselves.

Jesus had once said that in order to enter into his kingdom, we had to become like little children, who trust enough that they're able to share. The "wise and the clever" of the world will tell us that we should never sacrifice because there's no shortage of people, like modern Nigerian email spammers, who are willing to prove us all gullible naďfs and prey on our generosity.

And so we hear the message about being born from above, but we don't really want to die to our present situation to experience that resurrection. We're told about the Spirit blowing where he wills, but we put on our windbreakers rather than lift high our sails. And that's one of the reasons why neither we nor our parish communities experience anything close to what the early Church underwent after Jesus' resurrection.

During this Year of Faith, if it's going to lead as it's intended, to a new evangelization, it's key that we and our Catholic communities become true evangelizing communities who live the newness of life according to the Holy Spirit that is supposed to characterize us. And that requires faith to imitate the early Church, to be "all in," without waiting for everyone else to be all in first.

This is a challenging call, but it's a call that is followed by so many missionaries, priests, religious, consecrated men and women, married couples who intentionally seek to raise a large family and so many who sacrifice everything in response to the Lord who held nothing back to save us.

 "You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?," Jesus provocatively asked Nicodemus. The question for us as disciples is whether we understand the radical nature of the call to newness of life that by his Resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit he not only makes possible but summons us to adopt.

Father Roger Landry is pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Fall River, MA and national chaplain of Catholic Voices USA. His homilies and articles are found on


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'

Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for DECEMBER 2016
End to Child-Soldiers: That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.
Evangelization: Europe: That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.


More Year of Faith

The Happy Priest on the Baptism of the Lord and our own Baptism Watch

Image of

By Fr. James Farfaglia

The consideration of Jesus' baptism, gives us an opportunity to remember our own baptism.  If you do not know the date of your own baptism, it is a good idea to go through your personal files and find out when it occurred.  CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic ... continue reading

Regret of Judas or Repentance of Peter?

Image of

By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT

I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. HYTHE, KENT, UK (Catholic Online) - I didn't steal any cookies mommy! says a little boy whose mother asked him if he was hungry, wiping the ... continue reading

Pentecost: St Cyril of Jerusalem on The Living Water of the Holy Spirit Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online

The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one man's self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches ... continue reading

The Wedding Invitation of Jesus: We are Called to Live the Nuptial Mystery Watch

Image of There will be no giving or taking in marriage in the kingdom to come because the very purpose and meaning of marriage itself will be fulfilled. (See, e.g. Mk. 12:18-27) We will be living in the fullness of the Communion of Love with the Trinity. The symbol will give way to the eternal reality, the Sacrament will be fulfilled in the fullness of communion. All of human love will be completed in the Love which lasts forever.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is not accidental that the Bible, from beginning to the end, uses marriage as a metaphor and a symbol to reveal the plan of God for the whole human race.  Marriage was God's plan from the beginning as we see in the first book of Genesis. Throughout the Old ... continue reading

The Sower. The Seed. The Field. Understanding the Christian Mission Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

"A sower went out to sow. And, as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for ... continue reading

Reflection on the Catholic Catechism: Understanding the Bible Watch

Image of

By Michael Terheyden

How we interpret the Bible is of immense importance! It directly affects what we believe about Christ, the Church, and our faith, but it is also related to many of the grave problems in our society and the world. Yet, despite the gravity of this situation, we have good ... continue reading

Christ the King, the Year of Faith and the Catholic Counterculture Watch

Image of On this Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Year of Faith inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI comes to a ceremonial end. However, in reality, it cannot and will not end, because Jesus Christ is King! The Year of Faith was only the beginning for those who choose to live the Life of Faith.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It is one of many opportunities the Catholic Church year offers to each one of us to consider the creature called time, receive it as a gift, and begin to really live our lives differently.  This is one of ... continue reading

The Bones of Peter, the Successor of Peter: Close of the Year of Faith Watch

Image of The bones of St. Peter the Apostle

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On the Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Sunday which marks both the end of the Church Year and the end of the Year of Faith, inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis greeted thousands of the faithful and presided over Holy Mass and the ... continue reading

Fr Randy Sly on Becoming a House of Prayer Watch

Image of Jesus drives the money changers from the temple. 

With hearts clear and focused on our Lord, we can follow the advice of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Everything starts with prayer. Love to pray--feel the need to pray often during the day and take the trouble to pray. If you want to pray better, you must pray more. The more you pray, the easier it becomes. Perfect prayer does not consist of many words but in the fervor of the desire which raises the heart to Jesus. (Fr. Randy Sly)

By Father Randy Sly

Becoming a House of Prayer is the best discipline we can take on. St. Ephraem of Syria states that Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy ... continue reading

Jesus Weeps and Offers the Path to Peace Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

If this day you only knew what makes for peace- but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your ... continue reading

All Year of Faith News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 8:23--9:3
23 For is not everything dark as night for a country in distress? As the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 27:1, 4, 13-14
1 [Of David] Yahweh is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear? ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 4:12-23
12 Hearing that John had been arrested he withdrew to ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
10 Brothers, I urge you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, not to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 22nd, 2017 Image

St. Vincent Pallotti
January 22: St. Vincent Pallotti, Priest (Feast - January 22) ... Read More