Responsibility To The Needy As A Route To Heavenly Mansion

The history of human salvation is the history of the highest divine attention to human need. Immediately after creation and human fall; God the Father began to seek out means of attending to human need for salvation. He sought to achieve this through our fore fathers, prophets, judges, priests e.t.c but it was not fully achieved till he culminated this attempt in the time of Christ. It was at this time that human need for salvation was fully attended. Even while he was on earth, Christ went about doing good for the poor and needy. He walked the streets of Palestine healing the sick of their various diseases and raising the dead.
Towards the end of his three years ministry on earth, Jesus summoned his apostles instructing them on His forthcoming agony and his ascension to Heaven. He said, “You know the way to the place where I am going”. Thomas responded “Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” He was clearly thinking in geographical terms. In fact, all Jesus’ words about going and coming are spoken on quite a different level of meaning altogether. However, we can be grateful to Thomas for drawing out of Jesus one of the great sayings of St. John’s Gospel, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
Jesus today reassures us of the reality of heaven. He tells us that there is a place for each of us in His Father’s House. St. Paul adds that the eye has not seen nor the ears heard the wonders that God has in store for us. This plan is a union with God, the eternal swirl of His Love, is there for us. This is the union with our loved ones who have gone before us, union with the great ones of history, union with the Mary and the saints and the angels is all waiting for us.
Today we join Thomas in the Gospel and ask, “How do I get there from here?” And Jesus says to Thomas and to all of us, “You know the way. I am the way, the truth and the life.” Hence to get there, we must follow Christ the leader and the way. This way of Christ is shown us today in the first reading whereupon the Apostles and Disciples of Christ lived community life and service to one another. We can’t get there to the place we want to be unless we focus on Christ as we go about the daily duties and chores of our lives in the service of one another. We can’t point others to where they also need to go unless our lives are pointing to the Lord.
Before the advent of Christianity, the Jews were characteristically known as a nation with a high sense of responsibility for the less privileged especially among themselves. In the Synagogue, there was a routine custom that two collectors went round the market places and private homes every Friday morning and made collections for the needy partly in money and partly in material goods. This was distributed to those who are temporally in need who received enough to enable them carry on and those who were permanently unable to support themselves received enough for fourteen meals, that is, enough for two meals a day for one week before the next Friday. This system of funding was called Kuppah or basket. In addition to this a house-to-house collection was made daily for those in pressing need referred as the Tamhui or tray.
This tradition was borrowed by the nascent church though with some nuances. They formed a perfect community where all had enough for himself. They really deserved the name Christian Community. They sold their belongings and all had a share. Nevertheless, problem came up concerning sharing food and other services between the pure Jews and the Hellenist. The Jews dueling in Jerusalem and Palestine saw themselves as superior Jews than their brothers in Diaspora. Thus when feast/events that warranted the return of Jews in diaspora, there was always a problem of segregation especially when food was shared. Hence to bridge this gap, the apostles appointed some deacons who would dedicate themselves to the service of the needy and marginalized among the believers.
Today’s Liturgy continues to deepen our identity as Easter people, although there is a distinct shift of emphasis in today’s Readings from Jesus’ Resurrection to the activity and organization of the early Christians. The First Reading from Acts of the Apostles depicts a moment in the life of the early Church and responds to a practical need. They formed a perfect community where all had enough for himself. There is a division of functions to allow the apostles to dedicate themselves to their priestly task, while consecrating others to attend to the necessary material works and charitable needs. We see here a necessary practical shaping of the spiritual edifice. Thus we are called to the life of service to one another. Today, let us seek out ways we can be of good service to others around us in our office, church, road, society in general. Think of one service with which your immediate community would know you. Imagine being responsible and kind in words! Imagine picking nails and other materials blocking our roads! It’s by following Christ the way that we can get to the Father. It’s by following Christ the truth that we can get to the Father. Remember, Christ’s way is the way of the cross. In moments of trial especially in this time when the whole world is ravaged by covid 19; remain with Christ the way. In moments of dilemma remain with Christ the truth. May the Lord help us Amen.

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