(Part 32)


April 14, 2015

Today’s reading:  Acts 4:32-37

The first Christian community established on the day of Pentecost solved the problem of poverty, with poverty defined as lack of basic needs. In that community, “there was no needy person among them” (v.34a). Why? Because “those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.” (v.34b-35). Why did the property owners do that and why did the apostles distribute their money to others who were in need? Because “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.” (v.32).

How about poverty today? Widespread poverty is caused by a number of things.

* Inequitable distribution of the world’s goods.

* Selfishness and unconcern for the poor by the haves.

* Rampant greed and corruption in the capitalistic system.

* Dole-outs in the socialistic system, rather than providing jobs and empowering people.

* Imperialistic and colonialist western powers exploiting the poor, corrupting their governments, exploiting their natural resources, imposing reproductive health and gender ideologies, rather than providing authentic aid and development.

* Armed conflicts that displace people and destroy production and infrastructure.

How can the above be summed up? It is a lack of love for neighbor. It is not being our brother’s keeper. What is the antidote? What do we see in the life of the first Christian community?

* They were stewards, who knew that everything belonged to God and was to be used according to God’s purposes.

* They loved their neighbors as themselves, and so would not stand for others being in need if they had the means to fill that need.

* They put on the mind and heart of Jesus, thus uniting them in vision and purpose, and allowing them to act according to the highest Christian virtues, such as empathy, fraternal concern, mercy, compassion, self-denial, generosity.

Today’s world of course is much more complex. But the principles remain the same.

* Selflessness rather than selfishness.

* Love rather than indifference to or exploitation of neighbor, especially the poor.

* Sharing rather than accumulation of resources.

* Stewardship rather than ownership.

* Holiness rather than worldliness and corruption.

* Solidarity rather than unconcern for my brother.

* Authentic development rather than exploitation.

* Peace rather than conflict.

How can all the above begin to happen? It is by people meeting and knowing Christ, then starting to live Christ. It is being renewed and transformed according to the mind and heart of Christ. It is being empowered by the Holy Spirit. And how can all that happen? We need to share Christ to the world. Just like the apostles, we too are sent.

“With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all.” (v.33).

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Please read, study and discuss the book “Bringing Glad Tidings to the Poor.” This is our basic catechetical text for our work with the poor.

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