Monday, June 11, 2012

Daily Office Reflection: St. Barnabas

Journey Quint-tych (in progress), 2012, jfd+
MP: Psalms 14, 67; Ecclesiasticus 31:3-11; Acts 4:32-37
EP: Psalms 19, 146; Job 29:1-16; Acts 9:26-31

We celebrate Barnabas, a traveler with Paul, in Paul's early years as a disciple. Prior to traveling with Paul, Barnabas joined the growing community of Jesus followers by selling land that belonged to him, and giving the money earned from that sale to the apostles for their use. In our MP Acts reading, just prior to Barnabas' generous act, we hear a number of provocative phrases: no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common; there was not a needy person among them; (money) was distributed to each as any had need

Here was a community of believers, perhaps the first socialists, who believed in caring for each other. Who believed in Jesus' radical teachings of the proper use of wealth and possessions. These teachings are largely ignored by most Christians. Certainly in our country, the strong penchant for independence, and capitalism, and outright greed trump these teachings. These ideas of Jesus, and as practiced by this early community of faith, would be castigated by a vast swath of our political-class as anathema to the American way. I cannot help but wonder what Scripture these folks are reading when they profess to follow Jesus.

Where do we fall on the scale of the phrase from the movie Wall Street, and Gordon Gecko's statement, "greed is good" on the one hand, to the other exemplified by our Acts reading of people selling and sharing...The latter is unrealistic given today's environment and climate. A dream and a completely different understanding of how we interact with one another, perhaps? How do we move toward the Acts model, a community trying to live into the teachings of Jesus? Far more than challenging and quite difficult to think about.

Copyright 2012, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

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