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All Things in Common (Reflection - 2nd Sunday of Easter)

Posted : Apr-13-2023

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The life of the early Church was a life of love. In our reading, we see how the early Christians cared for the less fortunate in their midst. Most of these early converts were among the poor and destitute, and very few of them had means. Thus, the wealthier believers put their resources at the disposal of the church, to provide for those in need.

Thus, we read that the early Christians “had all things in common” (v. 44). This should not be taken to mean they had no private property. They still owned property (Acts 5:4, cf. CCC 2401-2403). Furthermore, those who gave were encouraged to do so willingly, not out of compulsion (2 Corinthians 9:7), and those who received were encouraged to strive to be dependent on no one (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12).

This care for the welfare of others is the basis of the Church's teaching on the “Universal Destination of Goods.” As the Catechism puts it, “Christian life strives to order this world’s goods to God and to fraternal charity.” It further states that, “The universal destination of goods remains primordial, even if the promotion of the common good requires respect for the right to private property and its exercise” (CCC 2402, 2403). St. John Chrysostom put it aptly in one of his homilies wherein he said, “not to share our own riches with the poor is a robbery of the poor, and a depriving them of their livelihood; and that which we possess is not only our own, but also theirs.”

The end result of this fraternal charity is that, “day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved” (v. 47). Outsiders saw the love the early Christians had for each other and were inspired to convert. Nevertheless, it wasn't the Christians who converted them, but God, who opened their hearts to accept the Gospel. Our role as Christians is to demonstrate love to one another, and to pray that God will use our example to inspire others to conversion.