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READING 1 | READING 2 | GOSPEL

Easter 2B Homilies

Our Sunday Visitor

The community was of one heart

Reading I: Acts 4:32-35

  • The readings for the Sundays after Easter reflect on the experiences of the early Church.
  • Today’s first reading presents an ideal of the early Christian community.
  • The result of true Christian love put into practice is justice.
SOURCE: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor

Scripture in Context

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Introductory

Visual Bible
by Stephen M. Miller

Commentary by Fr. Clement D. Thibodeau

As a community of faith the disciples reach out in compassion

In this book, the author of Luke continues proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, risen, exalted, and powerful in the life of the Church. The Gospel of Luke proclaims the Christ of his earthly ministry; Acts proclaims the Christ at work still in the Church. The Jerusalem Church may have been unique in its complete sharing of material goods. None of the other New Testament communities has given such a radical witness to its unity in faith and in service. Service flows from faith. Taking care of the needy is not motivated by economic considerations. A suffering member of the community claims our care.

©2020 Father Clement D. Thibodeau. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Commentary by Fr. Eamon Tobin

During the Easter season, the first reading is always from the Acts of the Apostles, sometimes called the Gospel of the Holy Spirit or the first History of the Church. The first readings from Acts during this season illuminate for us the mystery of the Church as it developed from its beginnings after Pentecost Sunday. On the second Sunday of Easter each year, the lectionary places before us one of three very similar summary statements of the life of the early Christian community. The statements are most likely an idealized portrayal of the first community of believers.

©2021 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Commentary by Sr. Mary M. McGlone

This passage follows one in which the Holy Spirit came to the community that had gathered together in prayer to ask God for the strength to be bold in their proclamation of the faith (Acts 4:23-31). It is no accident that Luke, the evangelist most attentive to relationships between the wealthy and the impoverished, followed that prayer for courageous faith with a description of the community’s practice of sharing. Luke was making the point that the community demonstrated their faith by their way of life.

We could well read this passage as a fulfillment of various prophecies from the Hebrew Scriptures. While the idea of being of one heart and mind reflected the Greek ideal of friendship among equals, the Christian community was diverse in background and economic status. Looking for roots in the Hebrew Scriptures, we realize that being of one heart and mind recalls the wording of Deuteronomy 10:12 which calls people to love God with their whole heart and being — creating them as a people through their attachment to God. The unity of the community also reflects Jeremiah 32:39 in which God promises to give the people one heart.

Verse 33 which speaks of the apostles’ witness to the Resurrection can be understood as a further explanation of the community’s lifestyle: They gave testimony to the Resurrection by the way they cared for one another. This means that their awareness of the Resurrection so transformed their understanding of daily life, their relationships, and their freely-assumed mutual obligations that the well-being of each member of the community became more important than personal property. This fulfilled Deuteronomy 15:4 which declared that “the Lord, your God, will bless you abundantly in the land … there should be no one of you in need.”

The sharing of goods Luke described in this community was not a socialist system or the original model for religious communities with their vow of poverty and common ownership of everything. This passage does not say that everyone put everything in common as did the Qumran community, but rather, some gave what they had to the apostles to provide for those in need. Luke does not portray this as a requirement for community membership — even if the example of the generous would have put significant pressure on those who were reluctant to follow their example. The emphasis is not on what was given but rather on the fact that no one was in need.

©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2018 Reflections,  2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.
Feasting on the Word

Does the resurrection of Jesus still have power to transform?

In Acts 4:33, Luke makes it clear that the source of this extraordinary behavior is the resurrection of Jesus: “With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” The resurrection is the demonstration of the power of God over all the powers of sin, death, and destruction in the world. It is also the power to transform the lives of those who believe. Does the resurrection of Jesus still have power to transform? What are the signs that we who have been baptized into Christ share not only in his death but also in his victory over death? The season after Easter was the time when those who had just been baptized were led into deeper understanding of the “mysteries” (the sacraments) and what their new life in Christ meant. In the contemporary post-Easter season, perhaps our efforts should be directed to helping people see concrete glimpses into the power of God’s transforming presence in this world. As we search for examples, it is well to remember that according to Luke, the most dramatic sign of resurrection power was a community where “there was not a needy person among them.” Resurrection clearly is not just about praise; it is about reorganizing the economic structure of community.  

SOURCE: Content taken from FEASTING ON THE WORD, YEAR B (12 Volume Set); David L. Bartlett (Editor); Copyright © 2011. Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved.
Holman Commentary

United, unselfish, and unafraid

Acts 4:34-35. This passage shows us a distinctly Christian view of possessions which centers not in ownership, but stewardship; not in creed, but need; not in fad, but family. We have no other New Testament record of communal sharing, and we should not apply this passage universally to other groups of believers. God deemed it necessary at this time and place and laid down a general principle of sharing with others. Notice the result: There were no needy persons among them. United, unselfish, and unafraid. Looking back at the prayer, we see its fulfillment in their power for witness and their clear focus of that witness— the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Unlike so many congregations today, these early Christians knew their identity and precisely what God expected of them. They moved forward with courage to achieve their goals.

SOURCE: Content taken from Holman New Testament Commentary Series (12 Volume Set); Holman Reference Editorial Staff (Author); Copyright © 2001. Holman Reference. All rights reserved.

God's Justice Bible

Generous living

Acts 4:32–37 Generous Living The church clings together in light of the persecution. They model generosity and hospitality, making sure no one is poor by continuing the practice of selling possessions and property to cover everyone’s needs

SOURCE: Content taken from GOD'S JUSTICE BIBLE: THE FLOURISHING CREATION & THE DESTRUCTION OF EVIL notes by Tim Stafford; Copyright © 2016. Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Life Recovery Bible

Giving ourselves a new name

Acts 4:32-37 The early Christians were growing spiritually by caring for each other, by meeting each other’s basic needs, and by carrying the Good News to people who hadn’t yet heard. Barnabas was a good example. His name was Joseph, but the apostles nicknamed him Barnabas, meaning “Son of Encouragement.” He sold a field he owned to help those in need. As a part of the recovery process, we may need to give ourself a new name that reflects what we are becoming in Christ. Who knows? We might also become sons or daughters of encouragement.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
Life Application Study Bible

Spiritual Unity vs. Differences in Opinion/Personalities

Acts 4:32 Differences of opinion are inevitable among human personalities and can actually be helpful, if handled well. But spiritual unity is essential—loyalty, commitment, and love for God and his Word. Without spiritual unity, the church could not survive. Paul wrote the letter of 1 Corinthians to urge the church in Corinth toward greater unity.

SOURCE: Content taken from Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition. Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Sermon Writer
EXEGESIS

ACTS 4:32.  THEY HAD ALL THINGS IN COMMON

ACTS 4:33.  GREAT GRACE WAS ON THEM ALL

ACTS 4:34-35.  THERE WAS NOT AMONG THEM ANY WHO LACKED

POSTSCRIPT.  TWO EXAMPLES

SOURCE: Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

READING 1 | READING 2 | GOSPEL

Easter 2B Homilies

Catholic Productions

Jesus and Isaac: Two Beloved Sons

Jesus is depicted as the fulfillment of many Old Testament types, such as Adam, Moses, David, Elijah, Elisha, Joseph, and so on. In this week’s video see some of the types Jesus is fulfilling in the readings for the 2nd Sunday of Lent, in particular Jesus being a New Isaac.Check out this video with Dr. Brant Pitre to learn more.

Agape CATHOLIC Bible Study

The early Christian community in Jerusalem

by Michal Hunt (Agape Bible Study)

The First Reading is the second of three summaries describing the Jerusalem Christian community’s character (see Acts 2:42-47 and 5:12-16).  In addition to centering their religious life on the teachings of the Apostles and the Eucharistic Liturgy (2:42), they also developed a system for distributing goods.  The wealthier community members sold their possessions when the needs of the community’s poor required it (2:44; 4:32-27).  In our passage, St. Luke describes the community of believers as being “of one heart and mind,” which can also be translated as “of one heart and soul.” In the Old Testament, the phrase mia phyche (one soul) only appears as the translation of the Hebrew leb yahad in 1 Chronicles 12:38 LXX.   However, the phrase “heart and soul” appears frequently.  For example, it is in the command to love God with all one’s heart and soul in the first part of the Shema, the Old Covenant profession of faith in Deuteronomy 6:5 (also see Dt 10:12 and 11:13). The concept of the unity of the community as of “one heart and soul” is later expressed by St. Paul as being one Body in Christ (Eph 1:22-23; 4:12, 15-16).

Three summaries describing the Jerusalem community

This passage is the second of three summaries describing the Jerusalem Christian community’s character (see Acts 2:42-47 and 5:12-16).  They centered their religious life on the teachings of the Apostles and the Eucharistic Liturgy (2:42).  They also developed a system for the distribution of goods in which the wealthier members of the community sold their possessions when the needs of the community’s poor required it (2:44; 4:32-27).  The members of the Christian community were living according to Jesus’s Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6:20-26 when Jesus’s taught that the wealthy must use the blessings of their material goods to take care of the poor.

One heart and mind

St. Luke describes the community of believers as being “of one heart and mind” (verse 32), which can also be translated “of one heart and soul” (verse 32 “mind/soul” = psyche).    In the Old Testament, the Greek phrase mia phyche (one soul) only appears as the translation of the Hebrew phrase leb yahad in 1 Chronicles 12:38 LXX.  However, the phrase “heart and soul” appears frequently, for example, it appears in the command to love God with all one’s heart and soul in the first part of the Shema from Deuteronomy 6:5 and also in 10:12; 11:13, etc.  St. Paul expresses this concept of the community’s unity of “one heart and soul” as being “one Body in Christ” (i.e., Eph 1:22-23; 4:12, 15-16).

Message for us today

33 With great power, the apostles bore witness to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. 
The message for faith communities today is that everything about the Gospel of salvation must begin with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Then all other actions of the community will unfold in grace and truth.

SOURCE: content taken from Michal E. Hunt at Agape Bible Study; used with permission. titles added.

READING 1 | READING 2 | GOSPEL

Easter 2B Homilies

Lisa St. Romaine

Isaiah’s prophecy can be proclaimed more fully if, as you practice reading aloud, you think about the times you experienced the same emotions! Lisa has suggestions.

Lisa St. Romaine offers lector tips. She is married to Philip St. Romain, M.S., D. Min. Her videos are posted on her YouTube channel every Wednesday for Sunday.
Paul Schlachter

One heart and mind

Points to consider

Today I am restating, along with thousands of other lectors in every land, the faith of the first community of believers.  And what do I believe about the report?

I remember that these words were written many decades after the dynamic they narrate.  More than history is involved here, in my opinion: Luke was judging the churches of his own time when he wrote his generalities.  And we?  In all honesty, could we apply the same benchmark of generosity to our churches?  In other words, shall we be strict constructionists?  My answer to these questions will affect my interpretation of the passage: as either a piece of nostalgia or a wake-up call to my affluent congregation.

Are any of the words I declare relevant to our congregation?  Examples: One heart and mindand no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own.  How did we come to defend private property so fiercely, wrapping legal stockades around our material heritage?  Apparently that was a problem for the communities as the first believers passed away.  But there are the words in our inspired scripture: They had everything in common.  And we?

Great favor was accorded them all.  This refers to the esteem in which they held the apostles.  How do we restore that level of respect to their successors, our own shepherds?  Do we offer it gladly only to those who prove deserving of it?

No needy person among them.  Today we discuss justice in our nation in regard especially to those who cross our borders undocumented.  And I will let a slight inflection come from my voice: How do we measure up?

Even the lector can learn something from the apostles.  With power they bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  How powerful do I witness?

Key elements

Climax: One heart and mind.  The passage opens with it, and it suffuses everything that follows.  Whether I am talking about possessions or preaching, I am dealing with a broad outreach.  No one is excluded, and the Lord is among such people.

Message for our assembly: How do we measure up?  Or are we merely reciting words today?

I will challenge myself: To take seriously what I am saying, so that my listeners will also take it seriously.

SOURCE: LectorWorks.org; Used with permission
Greg Warnusz

Peter’s summary of the Gospel

Introduction

Ask the presider to tell your listeners (or tell them yourself):

The book of Acts tries to give pagan converts to Christianity a portrait of how the earliest members gradually transcended their Jewish roots. Here they’re shown doing as a church the kind of sharing usually done only in families of kin. And wealthy and poor members are mixing in unprecedented ways.

Liturgical Setting

Every Easter season, the Lectionary tours Acts of the Apostles. In liturgical year B, the Sunday-by-Sunday selections highlight the internal life of the earliest Christian community, Peter’s preaching mostly to Jews, and a hint of the evangelization of Gentiles.

Historical Situation

Voluntary pooling of resources may seem weird to modern Westerners, as novel as Karl Marx’s ideas seemed in the West in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But this was not so in the Middle East, then or now. What is remarkable here is the locus of the pool: the church community rather than the blood family. Secondly, owners of property were few and elite; their mixing on this level with the mass of common folk was also astonishing. And the authority accorded to the apostles is also worthy of note. So this passage implies that the Christian community is assuming the nature of a family and beginning to overcome distinctions based on wealth. Furthermore, the apostles are beginning to take on authority formerly granted to Judaism’s priests. The apostles’ “careers,” so to speak, also begin to conform to that of Jesus.


Proclaiming the Passage

hese are important changes with big implications, but these selectively chosen verses report them in a somewhat offhand way. Don’t be fooled. That this sharing was quite a big deal is made perfectly clear by verses that follow shortly, Acts, chapter 5, verses 1-11, a story scandalous to moderns that you won’t find in the Sunday Lectionary.

Though our text lacks such juicy details, the lector should try to express the revolutionary nature of the social changes that faith in Jesus brought about. To prepare, meditate on the contrasts, if any, between the community described and the community in which you live and worship. Is your church of one heart and one mind? What possessions do you hold in common with any other members? Is there a preacher, or anyone, bearing witness with great power to the resurrection? Does the public accord great favor to your church? Is there no one needy among you? Blessed is your church to the extent that you can say, like they say in the TV commercial for Staples, “Yeah, we’ve got that.” But to the extent that you cannot, this reading is a wake-up call, and deserves to sound as jarring as an alarm clock or reveille on a bugle.

SOURCE: LectorPrep.org

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