Session 3: Discernment

The monks of Pluscarden Abbey sing: Ego vos elegi ‘I have chosen you out of the world, so that you might go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last.’ As you listen to this chant, remind yourself that God calls you, calls you by name. However unsuitable or unworthy you may think you are, God has chosen you.

One way that Luke makes a connection between the Holy Spirit and the fledgling Christian community, is by looking at the process of human decision-making. The mission of the early Church is inspired and guided by God through the Holy Spirit. God moves ahead of the other people in the narrative, so it often seems difficult for the people to keep up with God’s initiatives. But Luke carefully describes a number of these decisions – the election of Matthias, the decision to continue preaching despite persecution, the choosing of seven men, including Stephen, as deacons, and the acceptance of Paul as an apostle by the community of Christians in Jerusalem. As you listen to the story of the calling of seven men as deacons, spend some time reflecting on the way that you discern the will of God in your own life – what can you learn from this account of discernment?

Acts 6:1-6
During those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait at tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.’ What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

How easily do recognise the work of God in your life? Often God’s presence is very difficult to discern. It isn’t always immediately obvious, and usually can only be seen really clearly with the benefit of hindsight. Do you recognise his presence?

What could you do in your life to be more open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit?

God’s will can only really be seen in our lives when we make the time to prayerfully discern, when we enter into a conversation with God about what he wants for us.

In these last few moments of this reflection, can you enter into a conversation with God about this?

Session 3: Discernment
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