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Community Tensions

The passage from the Acts of the Apostles is a familiar story for most of us. I wonder, however, if we ever think of another passage that we heard earlier this week when we listen to today’s passage. On Tuesday, we heard: “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.” Compare that verse to the opening verse of today’s reading: “The Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.” Perhaps not everyone was of one heart and one mind!

The sacred writer tells us that the apparent friction that arose in the Jerusalem community is a result of the rapid growth of the community. Whatever the cause, the passage about the choice of seven deacons signals a change in the Christian community; namely, it is becoming more organized and different roles are being assigned to its various members. It is clear that the community is developing a sort of hierarchy. At the same time, it is also clear that service of others is still at the heart of the mission of the community.

The Gospel today tells us of a different kind of tension among the apostles. In the Gospel of Matthew, the apostles are afraid of the storm. However, John tells a different story. The apostles were frightened by the appearance of Jesus. There is no mention of them fearing a storm. Once Jesus assures them that it is he, they make an attempt to get Jesus into the boat with them. However, as soon as they make this attempt they find themselves at their destination.

Service of others and faith in Jesus are two of the pillars upon which the Church rests. Service can produce difficulties. However, if we simply remember that Jesus is there when we need him, we can overcome any difficulty that life throws at us. As we receive him today, he calls out to us just as he did to the apostles. “It is I, do not be afraid.”

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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