Easter Prominence. The Acts of the Apostles is used at Mass during the Easter Season more than any other book of the Bible. Excerpts from Acts serve as the first reading for every Sunday Mass from Easter Sunday to Pentecost, as well as for the first reading for every daily Mass for all seven weeks of the Easter Season.
One of a Kind. The Acts of the Apostles is unique. There is no other book like it in the rest of Sacred Scripture. It is not a gospel or a letter, the two other main genres of the New Testament. Acts is in a class by itself, and it records the history of the beginnings of the early Church.
The Ascension Dilemma. The first generation of Christians was faced with a serious question: now that Jesus has ascended to heaven and is no longer present on earth in physical or bodily form, where is the risen Christ to be found? According to St. Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, one of the primary and favored ways that the risen Christ continues to be alive, well, and present is in the community that Jesus formed, the Body of Christ, the Church.
The Risen Christ’s Fourfold Presence. The first Christians “devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers” (Acts 2:42). The apostles taught about all that Jesus said and did, and the risen Christ is present when he is remembered and his story is told. The communal life is the fellowship shared among believers, personal relationships based upon shared beliefs and values, work done jointly, and the companionship of fellow travelers on the spiritual pilgrimage through life; and the risen Jesus is present when his followers are together. Christians assembled for the breaking of the bread, the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist; and the risen Christ is present in his Body and Blood. Christians also devoted themselves to common prayer. It may have been two or three individuals, or a family, or a group of families, and whenever Christians pray together, the risen Jesus is present in each other and in their prayer.
Witness and Miracles. “Many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:43; see Acts 5:12). The apostles gave heroic witness, and the risen Christ was present in their excellent example. The apostles also worked great miracles, such as when Peter cured a lame beggar (Acts 3:1-10), healed a paralytic (Acts 9:32-34), and raised Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:36-42); and the risen Christ was present in every mighty deed that they performed.
Mutual Concern, Generosity, and Unity. Furthermore, “All who believed … had all things in common” (Acts 2:44; see also Acts 4:32). Christians were attentive to each other and shared with each other so that no one among them would be needy; and the risen Christ was present in their mutual concern and in their generosity. Finally, “the community of believers was of one heart and one mind” (Acts 4:32). Unity is a distinguishing characteristic of Christians. Oneness of mind is a common way of thinking and shared set of core beliefs, and oneness of heart is a common love and passion for Jesus and his gospel, God and neighbor. When the Christian community exemplifies this sort of unity, the risen Christ is present.