April 11, 2021
Revised Common Lectionary
1 John 1:1 – 2:2
Lectionary for Mass (RC)
Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24 (1)
1 John 5:1-6
What difference does the resurrection make?
When we Christians speak about Jesus, we often stress the importance of his teachings, his deeds of compassion, or the death that he endured out of love for suffering and sinful humanity. Yet I’ve noticed that as we share our faith or speak of the Christian life, we are less likely to focus on the resurrection—or even to mention it.
It’s striking then that in the Acts of the Apostles, from which we are reading on each Sunday of the Easter season, Jesus’ rising from the dead turns out to be the central concern of the early community. On this side of Easter, the resurrection is the primary lens through which the entire Jesus story is understood. What’s more, it clearly 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 the community of disciples that we hear about in today’s reading from Acts, the sharing of stories undergirds a profound sense of unity. Luke, the author of Acts, tells us that they “were of one heart and soul” (4:32). That sense of oneness expressed itself in the sharing of wealth, which is described in almost idyllic terms. We know of course that there were wealthy members among the first Christians, and we also know that sometimes the well-off did not pay attention to the needs of the poor in their midst (see Acts 6:1; 1 Cor 11:20-22; James 2:2-7).
Today’s reading from Acts may paint an idealized picture of sharing among early Christians, but it points to a vision of common life rooted in the reign of God that Jesus had proclaimed in both word and deed. “There was not a needy person among them” (4:34), because economic barriers were upended in this new order. 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” (4:32).
This radical sharing of wealth flowing from resurrection faith presents a challenge to Christians today who live in a world of stark and shocking economic disparity. While there are no easy solutions to alleviating the plight of desperately poor people in our world today, 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)
1. Miren qué bueno es cuando los hermanos están juntos,
es como aceite bueno derramado sobre Aarón.
2. Miren qué bueno es cuando las hermanas están juntas,
se parece al rocío sobre los montes de Sión.
3. Miren qué bueno es cuando nos reunimos todos juntos,
porque el Señor ahí manda vida eterna y bendición.
O look and wonder: how good it is! (2x)
1. How good it is when brothers dwell in peace with one another;
it is like precious oil when running fresh on Aaron’s beard.
2. How good it is when sisters dwell in peace with one another,
fresh like the morning dew that falls on Zion’s holy hill.
3. How good it is when all earth’s people dwell in peace together:
that is where God will pour the blessings, life forevermore.
Text: Pablo Sosa, © 1972, GIA Publications, Inc. Used by permission under OneLicense #A-729857.
Tune: HOW VERY GOOD, Pablo Sosa.
“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.