Common-ism is not communism- Tuesday, 2nd week of Easter – Acts 4:32-37

Common-ism is not communism- Tuesday, 2nd week of Easter – Acts 4:32-37

I think the take away from this text must match the wonder and awe of the passage, as we read through it. The sense of community living in the early Church seems too good to be true; perhaps it was, as we will see in (5:1-6). But a point is being made here; when we share, we show we care.

Without a doubt, the early church lived a spirit of common-fellowship or as it was known in Greek, koinonia. This word appears twenty times in the Bible and refers to a twofold activity; of worshiping together and holding all their possessions in common (Acts 2:42-47).

While the common worship may not alarm many, for that is exactly what we do on a Sunday, the suggestion of holding all our possession in common may send many scampering out of our Church with the more capitalist minded calling such a move ‘communism’.

There is a difference between communism and ‘common-ism’.  Communism is when things are held commonly but under force or threat. Common-ism is when things are freely held together because they are given in love. The early church exhorted its members to live this ‘koinonia’, but we know from the story in Acts 5:1-6 that all in the early church did not subscribe entirely to this thought.

While the example of Barnabas, a native of Crete, is given as a positive example of one who sold his land and laid it at the feet of the apostles, there is also the story of a couple, Ananias and Sapphira, who, having sold their property kept some money back. We are told that both paid with their lives.

As gruesome as the story sounds, it also reminds us that perhaps many found it hard to make this adjustment from perhaps an affluent life to a simple one, and while they desired the Lord, they hankered for their creature comforts.

Giving up is never easy especially when it involves the things that we are attached to. Some years ago I learnt a good method that encouraged me to let go (for the good of others) of the many things I was attached to. A Bishop once suggested that every three months we could go through our possessions and give away that which we have not used in three months. If you have not used it, means you have no need for it. And don’t console yourself with the thought of a rainy day, for when it comes you can’t even seem to find the umbrella!

While perhaps this method may not entirely reflect the great generosity of the early church, it most certainly encourages us to make a beginning, especially if charity is not a habit. Charity and giving must be caught and not merely taught (or even less lectured about). I saw my parents give all through their lives, and at Sunday mass we were slipped a couple of coins to give to the Church. My parents were not particularly affluent, in fact I suspect they barely got by without showing us their struggles; but they gave no matter what.

Charity does not only begin at home; it must be taught in our homes by the examples we set. This can be quite a challenge in a day when receiving far dominates giving. We may be a far cry from the generosity of the early church and sadly our tithes (one tenth of our salary) has reduced to one per cent and in some cases nothing, but I do believe it’s never too late to begin. At one time you had to dig deep into large pockets; today it’s easier when you just have to swipe a card.

Fr Warner D’Souza

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2 thoughts on “Common-ism is not communism- Tuesday, 2nd week of Easter – Acts 4:32-37”

  • Indeed ! Difficult as it may be we must make small steps forward. There are those who are generous to a fault. Still, they will keep back that little something extra for themselves. Human nature. No finger pointing when we are all guilty of doing the same. Would we were like that poor widow who put in her last mite. Help us Lord we pray to be more generous and all giving. Amen

  • Very insightful. Rightly said, it’s never too late to begin. 🙏 Agree with Bishop’s suggestion, we need to amend our lives. 🙏


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