I invite you to read these lines and imagine living in this kind of world! The people are united, heart and soul. They own nothing themselves but hold everything in common. They witness to a life of love and the common good. There is no one living in poverty in the community. This is because those who own land or houses sell them and bring the money to the apostles to distribute to those in need.
The good news is that this sharing and generosity are hallmarks of our society today. We recall the numerous charities who engage in fundraising, not least the charities represented on the Late Late Show during the pandemic. However, statistics show that more outreach is essential to those who live in poverty throughout the world.
The first reading proclaimed at Mass today (Acts 4:32-37) describes the early Christian communities. God poured love into the hearts of the people through the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis prompts God’s people to such a way of life. The early Christian communities received the Holy Spirit and so ‘were united, one heart and soul’. Today, the faithful hear about the first group of believers. What was so special about them? They shared. They cared for one another and the common good. They lived by the Spirit of Jesus, similar to how people care for one another in this time of pandemic. Citizens strive to maintain social distance and exercise hand hygiene and are vigilant to restrictions.
We hear in Acts 4:32-37, what one man, Joseph did- ‘He owned a piece of land and he sold it and brought the money and presented it to the apostles.’ To act in this way Jesus explains later to Nicodemus, is ‘to be born from above.’
This spirit of Christianity passed down through the centuries in people. The first Christians believed in Jesus and his way of life. Their faith was strong and enlightened. They proclaimed the Word of God and they responded in love to one another as Jesus showed them. People still show this love and care today, as they are inspired and prompted to support various charities and needs.
Humankind shares one planet. Presently, while many people strive to care for the planet by being eco-friendly, there are many ways that our lifestyle is destructive and causing terrible harm. Pope Francis calls the planet our common home. Owning things in common is ideally good but such an ideal is open to abuse. The challenge is to maintain a healthy planet so ‘there is full respect for the human person’ and there must be ‘concern for the world around us.’ (LS, no. 5).
St Francis of Assisi images our common home ‘like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.’ Two beautiful images of relationship model care, protection, love and nurturance. Throughout his letter to the whole world (Laudato Si’), Pope Francis encourages us to ‘accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbours on a global scale.’ (LS, 9).
In the Gospel (Jn 3:1-8), Jesus continues his conversation with Nicodemus. He explains to him what it is to be born ‘from above’. Jesus explains it is to live by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus, the third person of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit teaches God’s people to live like Jesus, to pray like Jesus and to love like Jesus. That is why it is so important to encounter the person of Jesus. This happens in prayer and in reading Scripture. To those who give time to prayer, Jesus reveals himself. He teaches his way of love to those who listen in the silence of their hearts.
Being born ‘from above’ means being ‘born of the Spirit.’ The Spirit is like the wind. The wind is a symbol of the Holy Spirt. When we think of the wind, we cannot see it but we can hear its sound. The wind blows where it wills. Nicodemus found this teaching difficult to understand. Then Jesus told him about himself, the Son of Man. God sent Jesus from heaven. Then he ‘was lifted up’ on the cross and now is glorified by the Father. Everyone who believes this Jesus says ‘will have eternal life.’
The readings today present the faithful with great challenges. The Word of God invites each person to encounter the risen Jesus and to live in love and respect of our neighbour. The Holy Spirit will help God’s people to love, to pray, and to live like Jesus if each one asks for an outpouring of the Spirit into our hearts.
VERITAS publications provides online resources including the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-books to support these themes. They are available on the Grow in Love website.
- Prayers to the Holy Spirit/Paidreacha chuig an Spiorad Naomh
- From your Bible or from the Grow in Love e-book for Sixth Class, I nGrá Dé, Rang VI, read Acts (Gníomhartha na nAspal) 2: 44, Acts (Gníomhartha na nAspal) 2:45, Acts (Gníomhartha na nAspal) 2: 46, Acts (Gníomhartha na nAspal) 5:16.
- When you are at home today are there any ways that you can see the Holy Spirit at work in your life? (by showing kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, love, joy, peace, patience, self-control). Say thanks to God.
- Have you seen the Holy Spirit at work in any members of your family today? Say thanks to God
- Remember to return your Trócaire box to the Church.
Sr Anne Neylon