Tuesday in the Second Week of Easter
Scripture Readings: Acts 4:32-37; Jn 3:7b-15
“The community was of one heart and mind…they had everything in common.” “So, it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Given the self-centeredness of Original Sin, this freedom from the bondage of self is truly as strange as where the wind comes from and where it goes. With Nicodemus we wonder, “How can this happen?”
“How” it happens is by the power of the Spirit. “Where” it happens is important for us. It happens in community. That’s where the two great love commandments are kept. That is where conscience is developed. Character is formed by a story and a community that lives out that story. The story is engaging and the community is compatible; they are the means. But the Spirit is the power that makes it happen.
A community like this is not a mere herd like sports fans, nor is it gathered in fear like refugees. Nor is such a community a society like the one the members come from. Societies are organized around contracts to meet self-interests. Underlying the society is a distrust of the other whose interests may not be sharable. Their interests are material or sensual.
The community described in Acts is united by a common feeling, a common love for what it is centered upon. An image for it is a wagon wheel. The spokes are the members. They are closest together when they are at the center. When they move away from the center toward the rim, they become farther apart. Personalities are put before principles; the private good comes before the common good; self-needs come before the story that unites the community.
It is the Spirit that gives the power to put principles before personality; to stay gathered around the center. The Spirit, though, must be co-experienced, i.e. experienced with one another. If that co-experience is not recognized and preferred as criteria for membership, then some will be singled-out and marginalized. It is shared experiencing that unites a community. Our sense of call before we entered, our prayer together, our eating together are shared experiences. It is important –it makes a difference- to take them seriously. The singular shared experience that makes us a Christian community is looking at the Son of Man when He is lifted up…and believing.