Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter
Meritocracy and sharing
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. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need. Acts 4,32-35
This passage from Acts of the Apostles is also God’s word as the other pages from the Holy Bible and, as one may choose to damp it with self-justifications of all kinds – historical, environmental and epoch-making changes, it always remains bitter pill. Sharing goods is a life style which could hardly work at the diocesan and parish level; it may be tried in a family and community context, but not always. The first obstacle is our meritocracy-oriented mentality, in the sense that the standard wealth distribution criteria take much into account the merits and ignore the needs. Even the so-called social safety valves, which tend to restore the balance among the economic disparities between people and groups, are more likely to be found in the civil society, where they are institutionalized, rather than in church environments. I have known only two parishes, one in Florida and the other one in Milan, the parish Sant’Eustorgio, where I saw the principle of tithing applied. In those situations, a certain number of believers gave their parish a part of their income, so that the latter could meet its needs and help the poorest people and families. In the parish of Castiglioncello we can also see, during our holidays, a constant activity to the advantage of the poor people. Everyone is involved in raising funds, from young to old people, in the most varied and imaginative forms, ranging from events, sea-style dinners and the most artistic works of embroidery. In fact, thinking twice, what sense does it have to participate in the Eucharist together, in whom the Lord gives himself to everybody, and then coming back home in complete disregard of the needs of others? And what sense does it make to consider the fruits of our work as only our own, when they are the result of such gifts as intelligence, health, will, heredity, and the family in which we were born, which we did not find for ourselves, but which we received at our birth? These are matters which we need to think over, and maybe we will find out the real sense of property eventually, as it seems it happened to Gabriele D’Annunzio. It is said, in fact, that after a life full of contradictions and excess, Gabriele D’Annunzio, on his dying bed, revealed to those who were close to him: “I realize, at this moment, that I only have what I gave”.