[Excerpted from the March/April 2018 issue of Emmanuel. Brother John R. Barker, OFM, is a Franciscan friar of the Province of Saint John the Baptist (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Assistant Professor of Old Testament Studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.]
There’s an interesting feature of the first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, that bears some consideration. We are told first that the “community of believers was of one heart and mind,” and that they held all their possessions in common. And then later we are told that “there was no needy person among them,” precisely because they held all their possessions in common. But between these two notices, we are told that the apostles “bore witness to the resurrection” with great power. It seems as if we are meant to understand that the common life being developed has something to do with bearing witness to the resurrection, as if it were itself an expression of the resurrection, or of the meaning of the resurrection.
Bearing witness to the resurrection is not simply a matter of proclaiming in words what God has done in Christ, as if bearing witness simply meant giving speeches (although it does mean that, too; Peter and others give plenty of them in the Acts of the Apostles). The power of the resurrection is seen first of all in the effect it has on the lives of those who believe.