What the reading from the Acts of the Apostles allows us to encounter today is the self-sustaining community of the first Christians. Not only were they of the same heart and mind, but they also had a communal view of property and possession. They lived for and with each other, making sure that neediest were accommodated before everyone else. For the first Christians it was not individuals attempting to give of oneself for another, but a communal effort to love and care like Christ.
Yet this unity of believers, this community of shared heart and mind, especially within the Catholic Church, seems like a far off fairy tale in today’s world. The sad reality of our Church is division. Fights over politics, issues, social justice, and spirituality have all created a deep valley of divide and pain that few want to cross. We cling to those that fit our mold of conservative or liberal, without a second thought of the bigger picture. How often have we judged or criticized someone within our own Catholic family because they do not practice or believe exactly in the same way that we do? How often have we let our own pride separate us from our brothers and sisters in Christ? Why do we find it so hard to not only accept the differences but to also embrace and move forward with the similarities? Christ came to unify his mystical body, not divide it. How heartbreaking that in today’s culture we have failed to even attempt to live up to that original unity.
Deeper than the ideological divide though is the real division of the material realm. In the first reading we see that there was no needy or poor person within the community. Each gave what they had to help contribute and sustain their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. There was no individual gain or profit, simply the common good. This common good is not an unknown facet within the Catholic Church; in fact the common good, the communal concern for one another is the core within Catholic social teaching. It was the mentality of Christ, and it was the mentality that guided the first communities.
Unfortunately, it seems to be a mentality that many have lost within the culture of consumerism. Some of the strongest Catholic cities have the poorest and neediest people, people who are of our own family in Christ. Why is there such a gap in what we know of Christ and what he calls us to and in what we do in our daily, material world?
As we move forward in the joy of Easter and the Resurrection, let us remember that Christ did not only come to save, but he came to teach us to love, to give of ourselves and our possessions in an imitation of him. Christ rejected his own power and authority through the Incarnation to ensure that we would have all that we need spiritually, should we not do the same for our fellow brothers and sisters in their physical realities? Let us pray today that the Spirit may show us how to restore our Church to the communal love and unity of the first Christian communities.