Acts of the Apostles 4:32-37
The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed for his own use anything that he had, as everything they owned was held in common.
The apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power, and they were all given great respect.
None of their members was ever in want, as all those who owned land or houses would sell them, and bring the money from them, to present it to the apostles; it was then distributed to any members who might be in need.
There was a Levite of Cypriot origin called Joseph whom the apostles surnamed Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’). He owned a piece of land and he sold it and brought the money, and presented it to the apostles.
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
‘Do not be surprised when I say:
You must be born from above.
The wind blows wherever it pleases;
you hear its sound,
but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.
That is how it is with all who are born of the Spirit.’
‘How can that be possible?’ asked Nicodemus. ‘You, a teacher in Israel, and you do not know these things!’ replied Jesus.
‘I tell you most solemnly,
we speak only about what we know
and witness only to what we have seen
and yet you people reject our evidence.
If you do not believe me when I speak about things in this world,
how are you going to believe me when I speak to you about heavenly things?
No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who came down from heaven,
the Son of Man who is in heaven;
and the Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.’
The whole group of those who believed were of ONE heart and soul.
Have you sometimes found it amusing watching guys watching sports? Much of my entertainment is derived when I notice these boys (or men) getting so involved and worked up by the game that they start to yell instructions at the players, jump up from, or jolt in their seats as though they could somewhat influence the on-field players’ speed and performance. This gets even more exciting when it comes to team sports such as soccer or basketball. Each spectator wishes he could will his favourite player on field to run faster, dribble quicker, or execute a more skillful shot.
However I’d imagine that on-field, it is a different story. As much as each individual team player wants so much to play his utmost best, he knows that for the sake of the team, his role is to compliment more than outshine. There is no room for an MVP mentality during the actual game as the clock ticks away. A team shines when all it’s members are committed to the same outcome with one heart and one soul.
In today’s reading, we witness the nascent beginnings of the Church. The Apostles, having just lost their beloved captain Jesus, were starting in their debut match much like an underdog team. Having nothing to their name, they owned everything in collective. We are told, “no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.” Yes they were poor and had to rely entirely on the generosity of their followers, yet what stands out is that no one was greater than the rest and, “the whole group of those who believed were of ONE heart and soul.” (v.32)
Here I am inclined to imagine the Apostles who, for lack of an obvious team jersey, clothed themselves with the unifying love and deeds of Christ. How else could the lay people and spectators around recognise them as the disciples of Jesus? Every thought, word, and deed, resonated fully of the same message of Christ because they had prayed for boldness to speak the word of God. And so the Holy Spirit had filled them up so completely that, “with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” (v.33)
In our Church today, do we shine with ONE heart and soul, or are we bereft with dissension, dispute, disrespect, and disharmony? Could we go out and identify one another as being on the same Team Christ Jesus, or would we actually feel threatened by the other as an opponent? What then do we expect onlookers to witness if we did not stand united, one in Christ? Before we hurriedly claim membership to this great Team, we need to first ask ourselves, are we committed to the Team’s motto and pledge?
Jesus has given us this directive: “Love the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment… And the second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mat 22:36-39). In fact, the Psalmist today reminds us this, “Your decrees are very sure; holiness befits your house, O Lord, for evermore.”
We need to remember that what Jesus said such a long time ago still stands – God’s decrees are very sure indeed and they echo through us in this world for all eternity. This is the one pledge – Love for one another – that will bind us all together to God with ONE heart and soul until the end of all days.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)
Prayer: Sweet Jesus, we pray for your meekness always and again, to help us to shed our me-first and individualistic mentality within your holy house the Church, so that we may identify with each other in the Love which you have called us to. May we clothe ourselves with your life-giving Love in thought, word, and deed, so that when we go forth into the world, we continue to shine for your glory and never our own.
Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending us your Son Jesus who first showed us the way of your love. We thank you for shining examples in our blessed Mother Mary, and all the Apostles and Saints whom we can call upon to walk with us in our daily pilgrimage to love one another.