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beguineOne of the more familiar and inspirational texts from the Acts of the Apostles, the book that tells of the growth of Christianity after the Resurrection of Christ, is today’s first reading. We hear that the community of believers was of one heart and one mind and no one claimed any of his possessions as his own, but they held 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…(Acts 2:32-37)

Last evening my colleague, Barbara Kane, gave our “Mystic of the Month” presentation at the Sophia Center. I learned that Mechthild of Magdeburg, a visionary of the 13th century, was part of a movement called the Beguines in Europe, women who lived in community with the purpose of caring for the poor. They did not take religious vows and were not bound together by anything but their love of God and their passion for the works of charity. I was quite surprised when Barbara stated that the last of the Beguines was reported to have died in 2014. I always thought that this movement was only active in medieval times.

In our day there are persons the world over who, driven by their desire to follow the example and teachings of Christ, pour themselves out in love every day. Whether in structured religious communities, loose associations of disciples or groups of friends, motivation seems the same as it was in the first century when the message of Christ was fresh in minds and hearts. Whether our contribution to the “building up of the body of Christ” is physical or spiritual, the call is clear to greater unity until the goal of communion is reached so that there is again no needy person among us.

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