They had everything in common
Liturgy as a teacher of unity
We have already remembered several times that unity is not a common external characteristic, but a living relationship. Hence the reminder of the founder to preserve and deepen the unity. How can one maintain and deepen this unity?
Lent gave us a good answer. The theme in March: Reconciliation (2nd reading from Ash Wednesday: “Be reconciled to God!” 2 Cor 5:20).
Easter also provides an important impetus for our question of how to preserve and deepen unity. So today I would like to speak with a sentence from the Acts of the Apostles: They had everything in common (1st reading, 2nd Easter Sunday reading year B): “They had everything in common” Acts 4,32-37)
A heart and a soul
The text (Acts 4,32-37) begins with this wonderful sentence: “They were one heart and one soul.” This is sometimes said when two people are united by a deep and intimate friendship. The apostle Luke uses this description to describe the life of the young early Christian community in the book of Acts. A nice expression to describe unity.
Question for reflection: Were or are there people with whom you are or have been, so to speak, “one heart and one soul”? How did you experience these times? How would you describe this (the same interests, the same views, sympathy, times spent together …)? Or have you had other experiences with this sentence?
Luke goes on. And says this phrase: “They were one heart and one soul” means more than a match of views and interests or a feeling of sympathy. Luke becomes very specific: someone sells his property and makes the proceeds available to others. Sharing is the key. I share what I have with others, and that is how a communion, a unity, arises.
What I have, I give you
In the previous chapter (Acts 3.1-10), Peter and John heal a paralysed man who was begging in front of the temple. Peter builds up a relationship with him. “Look at us!” Then he rejects the beggar: “I do not own silver and gold.” And then comes his promise: “What I have, I will give you.”
In the book of Acts it is first reported that material things are shared here. But soon you can guess that not only material things were shared. The sentence “None of them suffered hardship” suggests that emotional hardships could also be meant here. There is someone, lonely, sick, sad … and the others don’t leave him alone with his need, but share with him what they have: time, attention, patience.
Criticize or try
This section of the life of the young Christian community is often viewed with scepticism: Was it really like that or was something too idealized by the writer? And besides, it was a small community. In today’s congregations that would be unthinkable given this size …
Maybe, but that doesn’t prevent us from trying it out. I suspect it won’t turn your whole life upside down, but some things will change.
My contribution to the unit
Unity is not just an external reality that I find or that I am placed in. Unity arises and lives from the fact that I can do my part to maintain and deepen it.
Spiritual exercise: what contribution I make so that the unity in the community can be maintained and deepened. What am I ready to give?
… so that the wedding can take place
There is a story in which two young people want to get married. But because they are so poor, they cannot afford a big wedding party. So, they ask each of the guests to bring a bottle of wine. The contents of the bottles were poured into a large barrel, and when the guests drank from it, everyone was disappointed. Everyone just added water.
Maintaining and deepening unity … so that the wedding (celebration) can take place.
Prelate Dr. Stefan Dybowski
April 19, 2021 monthly talk St. Augustine Monastery, Berlin-Lankwitz