Thursday, April 26, 2012

A New model

St. Philip should be the patron saint for all those involves in RCIA teams.

Since Vatican II parishes around the country have set up teams of people to run what is most often referred to as RCIA (the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). Intended as a process solely for those who were unbaptized, for years anyone seeking entry into the church was thrown into it regardless of their religious background. In most places a life-long Anglican and a person who never went to church were marched through the same process. With the best intentions, we lost sight of the fact that each person's journey of faith is unique. It is an individual journey in the context of a community.

This reading from Acts provides with the best model.
The Ethiopian is not some poor ignorant slave. He is the queen's treasurer. He can read.
Philip doesn't presume to tell him what he needs to learn; he begins the conversation with a question, ""Do you understand what you are reading?" it is a question that seeks to understand the person, and seeks to open a dialogue.

After some instruction, the Ethiopian asks the even more important question, "What is to prevent my being baptized?" in other words, is there a genuine impediment?

Sometimes there can be. Sometimes people are simply not ready to embrace the gospel and the challenges it poses. Sometime people are not ready to change their lives. But Philip reminds us that we should not make it more difficult than necessary for one to receive the grace of baptism.

We have just celebrated the sacraments at the Easter Vigil and are beginning the cycle anew, perhaps we need to start with St. Philip, pray for us.