30Apr Tuesday of Week 2 of Easter

30 April 2019.

1st Reading: Acts 4:32-37

Full social sharing among the early Christians

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and nobody claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Responsorial: Psalm 91: 1-2, 5

Response: The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.

The Lord is king, with majesty enrobed;
the Lord has robed himself with might,
he has girded himself with power. (R./)

The world you made firm, not to be moved;
your throne has stood firm from of old.
From all eternity, O Lord, you are. (R./)

Truly your decrees are to be trusted.
Holiness is fitting to your house,
O Lord, until the end of time. (R./)

Gospel: John 3:7-15

Only the Son of Man can reveal heavenly things

Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus aswered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.


A united, sharing community

The account given in Acts about the earliest Christians raises the issue whether a fair sharing of property can be achieved within the church. We see how, at least for a while, the disciples in Jerusalem pooled all their resources, and there was nobody in financial distress. Later, however, their destitution was such that Paul has to take up a collection during his travels in Greece for the sake of the Jerusalem community. Communal sharing of goods remained an ideal but was quickly abandoned as a prescribed way of life.

The idealism of the early Christians can rouse our desire to relive such an idyllic experience of community. How wonderful if we shared all our goods, cared for one another, were equal in wealth and poverty, and found our greatest contentment and strength in community and God’s providence. But isn’t it more often that our gifts and talents divide us one from another? We are too demanding that our personal priorities and insights which differ from others should prevail. The artist seems too impractical, the talented person too dominating, the capable leader turns dictatorial, the scholar demands our consent before we have time to think out the question.

It is good to realize that nobody has a monopoly on all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Tensions can remind us that gifts are given not just personal fulfilment but rather to be shared in the joy and love of family. None of us, no matter how gifted, can be saved unless our talents are shared with others and balanced by others’ gifts. Living a spirit of community balances us, lest our gifts get out of hand, and can bring extraordinary surprises into our lives. The best growth takes place within community, because there is where the Spirit dwells.

Guided by what light?

We (in the northern hemisphere) notice a stretch in the evenings these days, with daylight extending well beyond 7.00 pm. Most of us like the light. We are pleased to know that the daylight is lengthening every day at this time of the year. Our heart sinks a bit in Winter when we see how the days growing ever shorter. Even though most of us like the light, the gospel notes  a sense in which people prefer darkness to light. The evangelist is referring not to natural daylight, but to the ONE who is the light of the world.

Our calling is to “come out into the light.” Jesus declares that all who live by the truth come out into the light. All who seek the truth are already standing in the light of God’s grace, even though they may not be aware of it. The gospel suggests that people of faith, those who seek to be guided by the light of Christ, will always have something very fundamental in common with all who seek the truth with sincerity of heart.


Saint Pius V, pope

Antonio Ghislieri (1504-1572) from Bosco, Lombardy, entered the Dominican order where, after ordination, he taught theology and philosophy for sixteen years. A friar of noted austerity, in the late 1550s he acted as inquisitor of the faith for all Christendom. In this role he defeated the project of Maximilian II, Emperor of Germany, to abolish ecclesiastical celibacy. On being elected pope (1566) proclaimed the supremacy of the Holy See over the civil power. In pastoral charity he visited hospitals, washed the feet of the poor, and banished luxury from his court. He worked with his friend Charles Borromeo to reform the clergy, obliged bishops to reside in their dioceses, and cardinals to lead lives of greater simplicity. Pius V enforced the the discipline of the Council of Trent and supported the missions of the New World.

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