Living into Christ’s story bring meaning

By Tim Irwin

Fourth Sunday of Easter/May 12

Acts 13:14,43-52; Psalm 100:1-2,3,5; Revelation 7:9,14b-17; John 10:27-30

People seek meaning. We appear to be the only creatures on the planet who do. We pursue meaning in order to understand our experiences. In so doing, we develop a sense of self and how we should relate to others. We arrive at a notion of the big picture and our place in it. Thus, we gain insight in how to pursue happiness.

More often than not, help in finding meaning comes in the form of a story. Stories can speak to our souls in a way that reports can’t. A story might inspire us to shape our future in a certain way in search of happiness. Jesus clearly understood this and he told stories or parables. The events of his life have been called the greatest story ever told.

If a story catches us, we will want to live into that story. It happens often. The die-hard Cubs fan lives into the story told over the course of the baseball season. These folks may wear Cubs’ clothing or display the Cubs’ logo in various ways. They may even make the pilgrimage to Wrigley to participate in the ritual of a baseball game.

The events recounted in the Acts of the Apostles this Sunday and throughout the Easter season tell the story of the first Christians living into the story of Jesus. We live into stories because we are human. We live into the story of Jesus because according to this week’s Gospel, we hear the Lord’s voice.


Jesus invites us into his story through lives of prayer, sacrament, and service. The Church offers a multitude of ways to answer. Rather than recounting a list of options, a story of one such example of the invitation might be in order. It occurred on April 6 at an Ultreya Mass at St. Mary in Metamora.

The Ultreya Mass is a monthly reunion for people who have made a Cursillo and guests. The evening begins with a brief talk in which a couple witnesses to the impact of Christ in their lives precisely because they have lived into Christ’s story. Next comes the celebration of the Holy Mass. The level of spiritual energy in this liturgy has to be experienced to be appreciated. No surprise really. When we actually live into the story, we have a reason to celebrate and it shows. Just ask a Cubs fan when the team wins a game. The evening concludes with a social guaranteed to satisfy the treat monster in anybody.

Making a Cursillo offers a way to step more fully into the Christian story. After that — Cursillistas call it Day Four — you can find ways to live more fully your Christian story. You probably wouldn’t have to look beyond your parish bulletin for opportunities.

Paul and Barnabas have moved on to their eternal reward. Still there remain folks who, like the gentiles of old, will delight in the message, if only someone shares it with them. You may be thinking how could any of us be a Paul or Barnabas? Good news — we don’t have to be of their stature to make a big difference.

Each day in countless little ways we can witness to the truth of the Gospel with a simple commitment to the good of others. Prayer, sacrament, and service are how we, his disciples, hear his voice. In so doing, we will see ourselves and others reflected in the image of Christ. Those questions of meaning that stories can answer will be answered. We will find a genuinely meaningful way to live and so experience happiness.

Christ invites. How will we answer?

Tim Irwin teaches theology and philosophy at Notre Dame High School in Peoria. He is a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Morton.

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