The early church figured it out. As daily tending of the flock became more complex, the apostles gathered the community and determined with them to select seven deacons to “distribute food and wait on tables.” Down through the years such charitable outreach and practical service of others has been in the hands of countless women and men whose contributions to building our community of faith only God can measure. This lay outreach is even more urgent in our own day, as Pope Francis frequently notes.

The service of the gospel in whatever form that may take for each of us can be challenging, even daunting, and often time-consuming. On some days I might even feel I am drowning with its demands. Here is where Jesus’ words in the gospel strengthen and support us: “It is I; do not be afraid!” With such support, we all go forward steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, untiring in love!

—The Jesuit Prayer Team