Our first reading tells us that in the infant Church all wealth and possessions were held in common. Some people point to it as a complete democracy, but on closer examination, it seemed to be more like the form of Communism that was unworkable in Russia. In the Soviet individuals lost the right to private property, while the distribution of goods was left to the discretion of the leaders.
The early Church soon abandoned that communist-like way of governing itself. Then, in the Sixth Century, with the barbarian tribes accepting Christianity, Christianity was forced into adopting itself to the Feudalism that governed the Francs and the other nations. Our bishops became vassals of the popes, holding their benefices in fief to him; while pastors became vassals of the bishops, holding their parishes in fief to their bishops.
In our time the popes appoint the bishops, holding undisputed power over them; but each pope has shared his authority with the heads of congregations which together make up the papal Curia.
This year when the cardinals came together to elect a new pope they elected an outsider who might loosen the power of the Curia. Who knows? Today’s first reading invites us to take a fresh look at how the Church under God could best govern herself.