"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. There was no needy person among them, for 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."
These words from the Acts of the Apostles are more than challenging, they are disturbing. These words are disturbing in the same way our Pope Francis’ words on poverty in the world are disturbing, when it comes to how and whether we equally share what we own with those who have little or nothing.
There’s not much sense in trying to rationalize here. I have done so many times before. I end up with a formulaic approach to "how much" I should give to those in need in our community. I have done the typical math, translating dollars and treasure into time (volunteer hours). I have tried the traditional tithing formula, using a percentage to let myself slip away from the picture of total community in the Acts of the Apostles. I’ve glossed over the words of Jesus about how difficult it is for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God (the eye of a needle).
I have even pointed to religious life as an example of where some profess to give everything for the Kingdom of God. Even there I find myself wondering about words vs. realities.
However, let’s be fair. The early Christians did not have electricity, Wi-Fi, gasoline or mega-banks and corporations. These complications and a totally different kind of economy do make it at least "seem" more difficult for us to define a proper relationship with money, land and treasure!
Maybe today I need to concentrate on the first few words of this passage from Acts, "The community of believers was of one heart". A simple question may lead me and others to our next steps.
Where is my heart?
Terry McDevitt, Ph.D. is a member of our Passionist Family who volunteers at the Passionist Assisted Living Community in Louisville, Kentucky.