“There was no needy person among them.” (Acts 4:34)

How idyllic the early church sounds! Everything was held in com­mon. The gospel was preached in power. Everyone enjoyed the favor of God. The wealthy liquidated their assets and gave the money to the apostles. This is quite a model of what a truly Christian community looks like—or would look like if such a community were comprised of genuine, true believers.

But look again. At the top of his list, St. Luke tells us that the believ­ers were “of one heart and mind” (Acts 4:32). The marvelous commu­nity that he describes is not a miracle of human unity but a result of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the only one who can bring about such a radical transformation in people’s lives.

Luke is not offering a model that we are meant to copy so much as he is painting a picture of what can happen when we allow the Spirit to fill and lead us. In the early church, “one heart and mind” looked like the common life that the believers led. Today, that same interior unity would probably look somewhat dif­ferent, given the differences in our societies and the economic systems at work today.

But whatever the details of our life as a church, unity is still key—a unity founded on the willingness to hear from the Holy Spirit. It’s a will­ingness to work together, to honor and respect each other, and to sub­mit our minds and hearts to the Lord and to the teachings of his church. This, more than any specific commu­nal lifestyle, is the heart of the unity that God wants for us.

Today’s reading tells us that if we give the Holy Spirit permission to fill us and lead us, unity will evolve—in our families, in our prayer groups, and in our parish communities. It won’t happen automatically, but it will develop organically as we learn to listen to the Spirit together. He alone has the wisdom to teach us how to work it out. He alone can show us what unity should look like in our day-to-day lives. Respect, honor, and cooperation are grand ideals on a human level. But with the Lord, unity of heart and mind can become a living reality!

“Holy Spirit, teach me how to be united with you in heart and mind, so that I can be of one heart and mind with my brothers and sisters.”

Psalm 93:1-2,5; John 3:7-15