Oh for the good-ole days. They are rarely as good as we remember them, of course. Those who fondly remember simpler times aren't usually longing for the outhouse.
In the second lesson of today's Daily Office readings, we are told that the early "good old days" of Christianity really were special:
Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony ... and great grace was upon them all.
The part that usually draws the most discussion is the complete sharing of all possessions. Communes are not a recent phenomenon! Perhaps our eyes focus here in search of some explanation for the practice then that excuses us from considering it now.
In actuality, this passage includes an even more startling claim. All the believers were "of one heart and soul." How was that achieved? The clue might be in the habits of the one person noted by name later in the text, the saint celebrated today, Barnabas.
His name means "son of encouragement," and that captures his way of being. Everyone was suspicious of Paul when he showed up claiming conversion after leading persecutions. Barnabas got to know him and smoothed the way. Later, when Paul was frustrated with Mark, it was Barnabas who gave Mark a chance to redeem himself.
Maybe habits of encouragement weave souls together. Worth a try!