There Was No Needy Person Among Them

Each year, the first Mass readings following Easter come from Acts; following our celebration of the Resurrection, we hear about the development of the early Church.

Today’s first Mass reading offers us a lesson on caring for those in need.  The early Christian community, we are told,

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.

Imagine that!  No needy person among them.  Contrast it with our world today, or even the communities in which we live.  You don’t have to go far from the church in which I worship each week to find people who don’t have enough food to eat, or a safe place to live.  And there is nothing unique about my church in that regard.  I suspect there are very few, if any places, where we can say that “there was no needy person among them.”

I am not suggesting that we all sell all of our property and put the proceeds at anyone’s feet (or that what we have be forcibly taken from us).  But the reading from Acts does invite us to reflect on our attitudes about what we have and toward those who lack.

Do we view our property as our own, to do with as we will, or do we appreciate that our possessions are a gift from God that we hold (in Aquinas’ words) for the purpose of “perfecting [our] own nature and [using] them for the benefit of others”?

Do we view it as a fundamental part of who we are as Christians to care for those who have less than we do?

What steps are we taking, to move us to a world where there is no needy person among us?