Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter

(Acts 4:32-37; John 3:7b-15)

“’How can this happen?’” Nicodemus asks Jesus in the gospel. It’s the same question many would ask of the first reading. How can people sell their houses and property and donate all the proceeds to the community?

Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, tells of Joseph’s generosity to illustrate the power of the Holy Spirit. He is saying that under the Spirit’s influence people can put aside self-concern for the good of all. It must be noted that the wholesale mutuality of the primitive Christian community does not last long. The story of Joseph’s selflessness is immediately followed by the sober tale of a believer’s deception out of self-interest. Then, in the next chapter, the squabble between the Greek-speaking and Hebrew-speaking disciples is related. It must be concluded that human nature is not completely resurrected with the coming of the Spirit however much individuals are enabled to love others.

Christian shortcomings cause scandal both in the world and within the community. At the end of the Middle Ages the selling of indulgences by clerics gave rise to the Protestant Reformation. Today many are reserved about receiving the sacraments because of the revelations of child abuse by clergy. And certainly Christians have been guilty of racial and religious bigotry over the centuries. There is need for investigating these matters lest too severe judgments are made. Yet repentance and penance are also in order. It is not that the Spirit has abandoned the Church but that Church members have failed to follow its lead. We must turn back to the Spirit with sincere hearts.