If there is a thoughtful reading of today's words from the Acts of the Apostles, we might consider the example of the lifestyle of the early Church and how we might look at our own lifestyles in this land of plenty. Some might think the plenty has been lost but when compared to many people around the world beginning within our own cities and communities we in the USA do live in a land where abundance is surely a part of many lives. Being a priest who lives alone, I try each day to share lunch or dinner with someone or a couple. This is one big difference between my former Jesuit days and the life I live as a member of a diocesan clergy. I mention this because what I have come to see over the years is the tremendous waste that occurs at least twice a day: mounds of garbage. We who live in a land of abundance dispose of millions of tons of food at the end of each meal. And yes, there are those who struggle just to get a bowl of soup.
Just as an exercise of mind and heart, try imagining what life would be like for all of us if we lived as St. Luke describes the early Christian communities. Surely most would conclude the same: we can't live that way today.
The gospel also offers us another way of looking at the way we live our lives in this modern society. St. John's gospel speaks about a mind set that was made more widespread by our brothers and sisters who live their spiritual life in an Evangelical religious practice. "Born again!" Remember when that phrase first came about. It was in our own lifetimes. For many Catholics it became a slogan symbolizing something to do with the Charismatic lifestyle or that of other Protestant religions.
We Catholics seems to have forgotten or never read the part of St John's gospel where Jesus himself speaks to the people about being "born again." Again John's gospel is the site of those words, perhaps a little differently expressed but having the same meaning:“You must be born from above." Yes, we must be born again. Our first, natural birth is very different from our spiritual birth that we must make our own at some point in our lives. Usually in the Roman Catholic religion that moment takes place when we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. But, because of the time we are invited by the Church to receive that Sacrament, we are surely far from being able to fully comprehend what it is that our faith is all about. But there does come the moment when we realize that we have not understood our religion as Jesus taught us to understand what the Father's will is for us. This is a reason why it is so important for us to rely upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit we have received in Confirmation to understand what God wants of us today, in this world of ours. Would any of us who received the Sacrament of Confirmation in grammar school or the early teen years believe they were fully aware of the meaning of being a Catholic Christian, aware of the meaning of Jesus' teachings for us? I know I want not aware of all that my personal faith in God and belief in the teachings of our Church were meant to be for me when I knelt before the Bishop for my Confirmation. Much food for thought, isn't it?