“The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.” Acts of the Apostles
I’m writing this in the “nest” of my house, a dormer room that seems to be embraced by the trees when the leaves are coming out as they are now. It features ‘60s music and peace posters, a wall hanging that quotes Gandhi on nonviolence, travel posters from Paris and Ljubljana (Slovenia), a ceramic “Peace/Justice” cross and a framed piece of lace that my grandmother crocheted.
But as I reflect on today’s reading from Acts, this room makes me feel small and selfish because I love it almost too much. Give my lovely brick Tudor house to a community or share it with anyone whom church leaders send? Are you kidding? Do I love Jesus enough to even imagine doing this? It would be a struggle.
The question that today’s reading seems to pose is whether we love God enough to turn our lives and possessions over to Him. Several years ago, a friend quickly exited a religious order when he instinctively rebelled against surrendering his car to the novice master. The issue wasn’t giving up the car per se, but turning control of his life over to an institution that this act symbolized. He just couldn’t do it, nor could most of us.
We Americans value our independence and take pride in being self-reliant even as we resist being told what to do. Millions believe that people should pull themselves up by their bootstraps and find depending on others shameful. When we give, it’s OUR decision to help earthquake victims or the St. Vincent de Paul Society and we feel pretty noble about this.
However Acts suggests that everyone in the Christian community should both give and take according to their needs with no gain or loss of stature. It’s an ideal that we might admire but unless we’re Dorothy Day or Mother Teresa we don’t live like this. It’s a radically counter-cultural perspective for most of us.
I’ll leave my “nest” today humbler about my own limits as a Christian. But at least this reading has forced me to acknowledge those limits and to meditate about what it means to belong to the community of Christians. Maybe it will help me improve a little. Have a blessed Easter season everyone!