I continue my focus on the Acts of the Apostles.
Today’s first reading skips forward to the sixth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. You may be wondering, “Did nothing important happen between chapters 2 and 6?” The answer is “yes”, but the compilers of the lectionary (the calendar of which parts of the bible are heard on each particular day) have saved the story of Jesus’ Ascension (Acts 1:1-11) and the descending of the Holy Spirit (2:1-11) for the solemnities of the Ascension and Pentecost.
(Remember the purpose of acts is not so much to provide a historical account but rather, an encounter with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.)
The heading of today’s reading: “The need for assistants,” provides a helpful hint as to it’s content. The first line brings up a recurring theme in the Book of Acts: the early church is experiencing explosive growth. It also makes clear; the growth has been accompanied by “growing pains”.
Here are few things to consider when hearing this passage:
· The Christian community in Acts is not an established church like St. Mary’s. It is a group of people who have responded to Christ’s message by living communally.
All who believed were together and had all things in common;b they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Acts 2:44-45
· The Christian community in Acts was not homogeneous group of people.
The Hellenists were probably Palestinian Jews who spoke only Greek. The Hebrews were Palestinian Jews who spoke Hebrew or Aramaic and who may also have spoken Greek.
(U.S. Council of Bishops Webpage)
A lack understanding of the Jewish background this early Christian community would make the last line of today’s reading appear to be an odd criticism. The “large group of priests who are becoming obedient to the faith” are not the men we call “Father.” They are the Levites (the descendants of Aaron) whose have served as priests of the temple who have now embraced the teachings of Christ.
Wishing all moms and those who have mothered us a blessed day,