Reading this Act of the Apostles and hearing how they lived then, though, should mean it is not impossible to put aside all our grievances, our greed, our selfishness, sin and fear—and to put on Christ in this world. I keep thinking that it happened before and it could happen again. I believe this to be so. I pray for this to be so—to experience the Kingdom of God in the here and now—brought on by our communal and personal goodness and holiness. How may this happen?
I think we need to focus and remember well the lessons Jesus taught in His short Ministry while here on earth. I think the lessons from His ministry were actually relatively simple and very clear. A few that spring to my mind immediately: stop judging one another—as people carry heavy burdens of which we may know nothing. Stop throwing those sin-stones. A lesson from the Lord about tolerance for the “alien,” about those strangers in a strange land—we are called to be kind and compassionate like the Samaritan: helping others who need help—even if they are foreign and different. We need to accept people “where they are at” like Jesus accepted the woman at the well. We need to invite others into understanding and inclusion—even inviting those we consider to be enemies—like Jesus invited Zaccheaus. We need to forgive and love like the father of the prodigal son. We need to feed the multitude. We should strive to live in the spirit of the law—rather than the letter of the law. We need to accept our own burdens and help others carry their crosses like Simon of Cyrene.
The many lessons and examples, teachings and parables of Jesus were still fresh in the minds of those Disciples post-resurrection: “they had everything in common.” And so do we, really—or we should! We seem to have forgotten the common good, putting ourselves first. (There are lots of parables about acting that way.) And you hear it and see it a lot: “What’s in it for me?” or “Why should I bear the burden or the cost of other’s 1.) laziness or opportunism; 2.) deservedness; 3.) just fill your personal blank. We seem to have lost the ability to consider the common good for all in the name of 1.) our personal identity, ethnicity, fear; etc, 2.) “patriotism, greed; and again, 3.) just fill in the blank.
The Acts of the Apostles tells us today: “There was no needy person among them…(all was) distributed to each according to need.” Wow. As today’s disciples of Jesus, we are challenged by this—to think of the common good in our priorities, our choices and decisions—before our own personal gain. St. John tells us today in his First Letter that when we love God and keep His commandments we may “conquer the world.” He didn’t mean militarily—he meant to conquer the world of greed and sin and “fill in the blank” in order to live in the Spirit.
Jesus appears in todays’ Gospel risen with the marks of His suffering because He gets it, He gets us. He knows we are wounded, so was He—and by us. Jesus could have re-appeared whole and perfect—but we can see—even in His risen person—the image of a suffering servant, the sacrificed Lamb of God. His advice to those Disciples in the upper room and to us, is to be at peace. Do the work, and be at peace. We are blessed because we have not seen Him personally and yet, we believe. We just need to believe enough to be of one heart and mind. That is the way we “may have life in His name.”
Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a Note: Thank you again to those St. Aidan Music Ministers who sand and played on the Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday Psalm of Hope videos. Thank you also to those who began to cantor again for our Community!
Just a Musical Note: “Where there is charity and love, God is there.” (Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.) We have three musical settings in our Journeysong hymnals! Here is a lovely piece of music by Maurice Durufle—Ubi Caritas, based on our Church’s plain chant. Where there is charity and love, God is there. We do need more love and charity in the world.