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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 mind, and 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?
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
Peter’s summary of the Gospel
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.
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.
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.