ONE HEART AND SOUL – Second Sunday of Easter, Year B

April 7, 2024

Revised Common Lectionary
Acts 4:32-35
Psalm 133
1 John 1:1-2:2
John 20:19-31

Lectionary for Mass (RC)
Acts 4:32-35
Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24 (1)
1 John 5:1-6
John 20:19-31

What difference does the resurrection make?

When we speak of Jesus, we often stress the importance of his teachings, his deeds of compassion, and the death that he endured out of love for suffering and sinful humanity. But how often do we speak of the resurrection? Are we likely even to mention it when we talk about our faith?

It turns out that in the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus’s rising from the dead was the central concern of the early community. On this side of Easter, the resurrection became the primary lens through which they came to understand the entire Jesus story. What’s more, it made a concrete difference in the way they conducted their common life.

The passage from Acts that we hear today describes various dimensions of the first believers’ life together, including this: “With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33). The very life of the community was based on a shared belief that Jesus was raised from death, a conviction that was supported by the witness of those who had experienced him alive.

Members of that early community undoubtedly heard stories much like the one in today’s Gospel, in which Jesus dispelled the disciples’ fear by extending his peace, sent and empowered them with the breath of his Spirit, calmed their doubts by showing them his hands and side, and even offered a second opportunity for the absent Thomas. The testimony of witnesses through the sharing of resurrection stories continued to ground the faith and life of this early community.

The resurrection was not merely a matter of words, however. For that early community of disciples, the sharing of stories undergirded a profound sense of unity. Luke, the author of Acts, tells us that they “were of one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32). That sense of oneness expressed itself in the sharing of wealth. Luke tells us that “[t]here was not a needy person among them” (Acts 4:34), as economic barriers were upended. Wealthy members sold off property and “brought the proceeds of what was sold . . . and it was distributed to each as any had need” (4:35). This sharing was a manifestation of the “one heart and soul” that characterized the life of this early community in which “no one claimed private ownership of any possessions,” voluntarily regarding everything as “held in common” (Acts 4:32).

We know from various sources that wealthy members sometimes failed to pay attention to the needs of the poor in their midst (see Acts 6:1; 1 Cor 11:20-22; James 2:2-7), and so the passage we hear today may paint an overly idealized picture of sharing among early Christians. Still, it points to a vision of community rooted in the life and teaching of Jesus, who had proclaimed in word and deed the coming reign of God in which the poor would hear good news and debts would be wiped out (see Lk 4:18-19).

Today’s reading from Acts presents a challenge to Christians who live in a world of stark and shocking economic disparity. There are of course no easy solutions for alleviating the plight of desperately poor people in our world, but resurrection faith calls us to embrace a new order that challenges any economic system in which people live in poverty.

A post-resurrection way of living is based on the understanding that we are one human family. We have a shared responsibility to ensure that no one in the world is needy. Easter faith calls us not only to use our wealth in a spirit of generosity but also to become advocates for the voiceless, the homeless, the unemployed, and those who are disadvantaged and lacking privilege.

What difference does the resurrection make? Each Sunday we gather to hear once again the witness of the Scriptures and of the gathered community to the power of Christ’s rising. As we have received the breath of Risen One’s Spirit, so we are sent to be his witnesses, instruments of his new life, living in a spirit of unity and care for others.

A Hymn for Today: “¡Miren qué Bueno! / O Look and Wonder”

This delightful paraphrase of Psalm 133 was created by Pablo Sosa, FHS, for a local church event in 1970. Sosa used an indigenous Argentine dance-song style known as chamarrita to express the joy of communion among believers. Listen here.

¡Miren qué bueno, qué bueno es! (2x)

Miren qué bueno es cuando los hermanos están juntos,
es como aceite bueno derramado sobre Aarón. Estribillo

Miren qué bueno es cuando las hermanas están juntas,
se parece al rocío sobre los montes de Sión. Estribillo

Miren qué bueno es cunado nos reunimos todos juntos,
porque el Señor ahí manda vida eterna y bendición. Estribillo

O look and wonder: how good it is! (2x)

How good it is when brothers dwell in peace with one another;
it is like precious oil when running fresh on Aaron’s beard. Refrain

How good it is when sisters dwell in peace with one another,
fresh like the morning dew that falls on Zion’s holy hill. Refrain

How good it is when all earth’s people dwell in peace together;
that is where God will pour the blessings, life forevermore. Refrain

Text: Pablo Sosa, © 1972, GIA Publications, Inc. Used by permission under OneLicense #A-729857
Tune: HOW VERY GOOD, Pablo Sosa

Image Credit: Theology of Work

“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.

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