Saturday of the Second Week of Easter

Lectionary: 272

As the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.

Now that Communism (with a capital c) has been thoroughly disgraced it's safe to consider one of the most influential thoughts in modern history. An atheistic ideology that intentionally excludes the gospel is doomed from the start; its idealism cannot comprehend the height, depth and width of concupiscence. Even in the 1850's the Catholic Church tried to warn people this socialist agenda discounted Original Sin and could not work in the real world.  
But Karl Marx was onto something. He saw that the haves systematically and intentionally maintain their dominance, permitting the have-nots only the leftovers of prosperity. They not only persuade themselves that the underprivileged are happy with their lot; they sincerely believe God intended that way from the beginning. 
Saint Luke records such an incident in today's first reading, when the majority of Christians in Jerusalem, Hebrew-speaking, unintentionally but systematically overlooked the needs of the Greek-speaking widows. Twenty-first century American Christians should be entirely familiar with the same story. After twenty centuries, only the names and faces have changed. 
Sometimes travelling African Americans visit a Catholic church in a strange city. Often a well-meaning parishioner will whisper to them, "This is a Catholic church!" She assumes all Catholics are white, and all blacks are Protestant. 
Mistakes like that could be laughed off if they didn't happen so often. I have reason to believe this anecdote is matter-of-fact true: A diner asked a Catholic African-American bishop, joining a party in a high class restaurant, to bring more water. His fellow bishops were horrified but the gentleman very kindly obliged! 
Many of us would like to think we are not at all "prejudiced." But prejudice goes with human ignorance and the necessity to continually assess complex situations. We all make mistakes about people, and often. We misinterpret signals, misread predicaments, and misunderstand people. We think women are men; men are women, and everyone should be one or the other. 
Catholics so often refer to other people as "non-Catholics" that even some Protestants use the insult. But I've yet to meet a Catholic who says "I'm a non-Protestant." 
When we ponder this incident in Acts 6, and the Apostles' sidestepping response, we realize that being discovered as "prejudiced" is an invitation to come out of our personal and collective ignorance and consider the ever-expanding community of the world. Most people in the world are not like me, and that's a good thing. Most people in the world neither think like me nor agree with me. They have different tastes, different histories and experience, different beliefs, hopes and dreams. I really don't understand them. 
But I can listen and learn and be delighted. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to Martha for noticing this post failed to appear on Saturday morning. Someday I'll figure out how I make that mistake.


I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.