Sunday of Divine Mercy

The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.

So which is true? Some scholars say that Saint Luke put an over-optimistic slant on the earliest days of the Church. He liked to airbrush conflicts and disagreements out of his narrative. Perhaps his charter church actually claimed their possessions and pretended like they owned everything in common. But, as later events would prove, it was all talk. Enthusiasm can't really persuade people to live like that.
But, let's suppose the Evangelist and these first generation Christians actually knew a deeper truth: that no one owns anything despite claims, titles, deeds, possessions and estates. Ownership is a fiction, useful for its purposes but ultimately, nonsense.
Ownership is a child's claim in the house of adults. This blanket, teddy bear, bicycle or Kindle is "mine" when, in fact, everything in the house was bought and paid for by parents. The adults may permit the child to think she owns certain items but in a moment of crisis -- a flood, fire or invading army -- ownership is scuttled as the family flees.
Lent was a time of repentance and purgation as we considered our sins and, especially, our attachments to sin. We let go of much property during those forty days, including resentments and regrets. We heard Jesus invite us to "take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me.... For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." We don't have to carry all that baggage; it only makes matters worse.
The Author of Hebrews ​reminded his congregation of more difficult times:
You even joined in the sufferings of those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, knowing that you had a better and lasting possession.

Spiritual possessions. Physical possessions. Is there a difference between them? Do you suppose Baptism would free us of one and not the other? Are physical possessions mysteriously exempt from the laws of spiritual possessions? Are they not tainted by acquisitiveness, possessiveness, pride, jealousy or envy?  How much does it cost to keep these things? How much freedom do we surrender to them?
Need I mention the political and social dimensions of this question? As sojourners in this world we understand ownership is stewardship. I am responsible for the things I own, and a steward with others of things we own. Ownership puts me in league with others who are responsible for their property. We own cities together, with their streets, water mains, sewers and parks. We build infrastructure together and pay taxes to cover the cost. As a consumer, I share with other consumers the responsibility of ownership; be it a pack of cigarettes, an automobile, computer, real estate or firearm. Those who buy pornography invest in the industry that exploits women, children and men. Ownership comes with an onus of accountability.
Easter and its season celebrate the Freedom of Faith. During these fifty days till Pentecost we thank God for a Baptism of new life and new beginning. As willing stewards, we follow the Lord wherever he leads us.

No comments:

Post a Comment

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.