Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles can leave us wondering, “What happened?” The passage describes an idyllic, utopian community of believers that are single-minded in their wholehearted love for the Lord and His people. They care for the needs of those around them and trust the Apostles to distribute their earthly goods as justly as possible. Today, we look around at Christianity and we see divided hearts and minds among the thousands of different denominations. We hear suspicious accusations cast upon our leaders in the Church as well as upon the needy. We are compelled to ask, “What in the world happened?”
Fear happened. Fear crept into the Church as it had crept into the garden and whispered that we should not trust. This lie, told by the Liar, is a starting point for sin, for instance, when I fear for my happiness I seek fleeting remedies like overindulgence in alcohol, tv, etc. So many sins can be shown to have a connection to fear: Pride fears that God doesn’t know that He is doing, Envy fears that another’s happiness diminishes mine, Anger fears that justice will never be fulfilled, Sloth fears that I will never have enough time, Greed fears that without possessions I have nothing of value, Gluttony fears that if I don’t get mine now I’ll never have it, and Lust fears that without pleasure there is no fulfillment. Thus, if we want to be anywhere close to the Church described in Acts we need to become fearless again. For you see, the prevailing undercurrent of all three readings is that there is a trust in God that overcomes fear and it is these three points I wish to present for our reflection.
In Acts, the power of the Resurrection, and Apostles witness to it, fostered fearless trust. Would our bishops, priests, and lay leaders be easier to trust if they courageously bore a stronger witness to the resurrection of Christ? Does the Resurrection of Jesus possess power in our minds and hearts, or has it been relegated to a cultural celebration and religious novelty? Does it help us overcome the fear of death?
The Psalmist finds great assurance in Gods firm trustworthiness. Do we share that view? Do we find firmness and stability with the Lord? Do we find God’s decrees trustworthy or do we fear that they will impugn upon our freedom?
Finally, in the Gospel, we find Christ prophesying his own death. He said, “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” Christ thus shows his trust in the Father’s plan. Do I trust that my life serves a definite purpose? Do I fear to die to myself because I do not trust God that there is truly fullness of life available to me, even now?
Lord, give us the grace to trust you in such a radical way that sin diminishes in our lives and that we can reflect the one heart and mind of the Church in its infancy.