Scripture Reading for Today: Acts 6:1-7 (read it here)
Luke reports about the days that followed the trial of the apostles and their concerted effort to preach and teach the gospel throughout Jerusalem. The result of this intensive activity is that the membership of the church increases by leaps and bounds; but how many Christians belong to the Jerusalem church is difficult to say.
From the Pentecost account we learn that devout Jews had come from different parts of the Mediterranean to visit and to settle in Jerusalem. Many of these devout Jews were elderly people who wanted to spend the rest of their lives in the holy city.
Because they had formerly resided elsewhere, their native tongue was Greek, and not Aramaic or Hebrew, which was spoken by the Jews in Jerusalem. Each group had its own synagogue. Moreover, each group used its own Bible. The Greek-speaking Jews (also called “Hellenists”) were accustomed to the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures; and the Aramaic-speaking Jews read the Old Testament in the original Hebrew.
Many of these Hellenistic Jews—that is, Greek-speaking Jews—accepted Christ’s gospel and became part of the Christian church.
The Aramaic-speaking Christians in Jerusalem were in the majority, and the Greek-speaking believers formed a minority. Although harmony and unity were the characteristics of the Christian church, linguistic and cultural differences caused inevitable separation.
Thus far the Twelve had the full responsibility of caring for the spiritual and physical needs of all the believers. But, in view of their many responsibilities, and with the growth of the Christian community, the apostles realize that they are unable to do justice to caring for the financial needs of all the needy, especially those widows of the Greek-speaking group who often feel alienated and “neglected in the daily distribution of food.”
In the Old Testament the care of widows is highlighted, and their neglect severely condemned; so, the matter is a serious one. It is also important to remember that for the Church there should not be “any needy person among them.”
The twelve apostles call together the entire Christian community to make an important decision. They remind the community that their primary task is to teach and preach the gospel of salvation; and that they must devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word.
The apostles with the help of the Christian community find a solution: they appoint some qualified men in the church to organize the “soup kitchen” of the day—that is, the daily distribution of food.
Note how the task of distributing food and money is not a secondary ministry. These men must have a reputation that is above reproach; and a person helping the needy must also be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.
Christ calls us together around the table of the Eucharist to speak his word to us and to feed us with his Body and Blood.
Let us also dedicate ourselves to prayer and listening to the word of God.
Encouraged by Mary, let us also be attentive to the needs of the poor and vulnerable.
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Que la palabra de Cristo habite y se sienta a gusto en ustedes (Col. 3:16)
Let us make this a blessed day.
Keep Jesus in your mind and heart and share him with all you meet.
Fr. Michael Brizio, IMC
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