Fifth Sunday of Easter
1) Acts 6:1-7
Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
2) 1 Pt 2:4-9
Gospel: Jn 14:1-12
Probably because of the moment we are going through in society, the detail that jumps out at me in today’s readings is hunger.
The psalmist leads us to praise God because “the eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear him … to deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine.”
Famine is a terrible thing. The psalmist declares that the merciful God acts to help those who are caught in it, although he doesn’t explain how. But an insight into the way God deals with hunger is featured in our first reading.
The reading is a tidbit from St. Luke’s history of the early church. At the time of the incident, the church consisted of just the original group of Jesus’ disciples and the first converts to Christ, that is, the Christian community in Jerusalem before it began branching out.
As in every ancient town, there were a lot of poor people in Jerusalem. Thus, there were a lot of poor people in the Jerusalem church. And by poor, I mean, really poor — on the edge of hunger or hungry all the time.
That first Christian community had ways of dealing with this problem. Their methods sprang from the sense they had of being brothers and sisters in Christ.
First, in the love and joy they experienced with each other as brothers and sisters, they regularly shared meals in one another’s homes, and poor members of the community were welcome along with everyone else.
Second, they felt that their material resources were at the service of those in need, since all were members of one family now. So those who owned property would sell some of it and bring the proceeds to the leaders of the community for distribution to the poorer — hungry — members. Apparently both of these methods lie behind what Luke calls “the daily distribution.”
Luke tells how, when a glitch occurred in the daily distribution, the community, guided by the Holy Spirit, worked together to solve it.
Their circumstances are not ours. There is no one way of caring for those who don’t have enough to eat. But if we listen, the Spirit will guide us in dealing with our present-day hunger problem. The experience of the Jerusalem church suggests that a key to the solution will be the recognition that we are brothers and sisters.
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Perrotta is the editor and an author of the “Six Weeks With the Bible” series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.