Opening the Word: One heart, one mind

2 mins read

Timothy P O'MalleyOur regular reading of Acts during Easter numbs us to the earth-shattering events that took place in the years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

St. Peter preaches the Gospel with power and might. The apostles heal and baptize in the name of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is spread unto the ends of the world by the persecutor turned apostle, St. Paul.

On this Second Sunday of Easter, we hear something equally remarkable. In the early days of the Church, the community of believers was of one heart and one mind. They shared all things in common.

Naturally, Acts reminds us that this total unity was not maintained for long. There were those, such as Ananias and Sapphira, who sold their property but kept a bit of the money for themselves. St. Peter, St. James and St. Paul vehemently disagree about how the gentiles should be included in the Church.

April 11 – Second Sunday of Easter, Sunday of Divine Mercy
Acts 4:32-35
Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
1 Jn 5:1-6
Jn 20:19-31

And if we read the letters of St. Paul, we hear about disunity in Corinth, Galatia and Rome. Some ate the meat of idols, some excluded the poor from the Eucharistic celebration, and some refused to give up circumcision — erecting a barrier for all the nations to come to worship Jesus Christ.

“The community of believers was of one heart and mind …” (Acts 4:32).

This early witness to unity remains essential to what it means to belong to the Catholic Church even today. Yes, the unity has been fractured. But Acts serves as a prophetic icon to the Church, reminding us of our original vocation to unite all men and women in a communion of love in Christ’s body.

Today, it is worthwhile to consider three ways that we have forgotten this vocation.

First, many Catholics have overlooked the mission of evangelization that comes with belonging to the Church. Catholicism is not a private club for those who are interested in worship on a Sunday morning. Catholicism is incomplete until every man and every woman, in each neighborhood, worships the triune God.

Our task, therefore, is not just to run programs that cater to the interested. We must go out into the neighborhoods, into the highways and the byways and invite everyone to the Supper of the Lamb.

Second, Catholics in the United States often operate not out of the politics of the Eucharistic Church but worship instead the political platforms of the Democrats or Republicans. We identity more with Ted Cruz or Kamala Harris than we do with Jesus Christ.

The universal vocation of the Church should be a challenge to this idolization of party politics, which too easily leads many in the Church to overlook the horrors of abortion or the suffering of migrants because it does not align with the party’s platform. We are called to share all things in common, to take up the merciful heart of the Blessed Mother who is moved by the suffering of all.

Third, a certain false traditionalism exists in the Church that fosters disunity. These traditionalists deny that the reformed Mass is valid. They hate the Second Vatican Council. They despise Pope Francis, often mocking him on Twitter.

In the name of a purer Catholicism, they do violence to the unity of the Church.

How can we respond? During these days of Easter, we must return to our common school of unity, the Eucharistic sacrifice. There, Our Lord gives his body and his blood to us, feeding us with the sacrament of love.

It is the Eucharist that forms us to share all things in common — a common teaching, a common mission, a common vocation to sanctify the created order.

One heart, one mind.

Timothy P. O’Malley, Ph.D., is the director of education at the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame.

Timothy P. O'Malley

Timothy P. O’Malley, Ph.D., is the director of education at the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame.