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January 1994

The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, as everything they owned was held in common. (Acts 4:32)

This Word of Life is one of the literary pictures (see also 2:42 and 5:12-16) in which the author of the Acts of the Apostles gives us a broad outline of the first Christian community in Jerusalem. This is seen to be characterised by an exceptional spiritual freshness and dynamism, by prayer and witness, and above all by a great unity, the feature that Jesus wanted as the unmistakeable hallmark and source of fruitfulness for his Church.

The Holy Spirit, given in baptism to all who welcome the word of Jesus, is a spirit of love and of unity, and so he made all the believers one with the risen Lord and with each other, overcoming all differences of race, culture and class.

The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, as everything they owned was held in common.

But let's look in detail at aspects of this unity.

Among the believers, before anything else, the Holy Spirit brought about unity of heart and mind, helping them overcome those feelings that make it difficult, through the dynamic of their communion as brothers and sisters.

In fact, the greatest obstacle to unity is our individualism: the attachment to our own ideas, points of view and personal tastes. Our egoism builds barriers by which we isolate ourselves and exclude others who are different from us.

The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, as everything they owned was held in common.

The unity brought about by the Holy Spirit was, then, necessarily reflected in the lives of the believers. Unity of mind and heart became incarnate and showed itself in a real solidarity, through the sharing of personal goods with those brothers and sisters who were in need. Precisely because unity was genuine, it was unacceptable that within the community some should live in plenty while others did not even have the minimum necessary.

The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, as everything they owned was held in common.

How shall we live the Word of Life this month? It underlines the communion and unity that Jesus urged us to have, and for which he gave us his Spirit so that we could actually achieve it.

Let's try, then, through listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, to grow in this communion at all levels - above all at a spiritual level, overcoming the seeds of division that we carry within us. For example, it would be a nonsense to want to be united to Jesus and at the same time be divided among ourselves, behaving individualistically, each going our own way, judging one another and perhaps excluding one another. So what is needed is a renewed conversion to God who wants us to be united.

This word, furthermore, will help us always to understand better the contradiction that exists between Christian faith and the selfish use of material goods. It will help us to live out a genuine solidarity with those who are in need, even if within the limits of what is possible for us.

Since we celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this month, this word will encourage us to pray and to strengthen with our brothers and sisters of other Churches the bonds of unity and the love which shares. With these brothers and sisters we have in common the one faith and one Spirit of Christ, received in baptism.

Chiara Lubich

 

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