"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 to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet."
Such a system strikes us as strange today, given that the Catholic Church is not asking anyone to sell their possessions and give them all to the Church (unless you become a consecrated religious and take a vow of poverty). But this behavior was also strange by the standards of the new Church. Indeed, as we read the New Testament and hear about the spreading of the Gospel throughout Israel and the Mediterranean, we notice that this pattern of putting all possessions in common was not reproduced anywhere else. It only happened in Jerusalem.
Ready to eject
A number of scholars have put forth explanations, but I recently heard a very down to earth and pragmatic angle that makes a lot of sense. Prior to his Passion, Jesus warned the disciples that Jerusalem would eventually be destroyed. When that happened, the disciples were to drop everything and flee the city.
By selling all their "lands and houses" they had no attachments to the land and were therefore well prepared to evacuate the city in a moment's notice. That's part of the reason why this behavior was only observed in Jerusalem and nowhere else in the new Church. And indeed we know that Jerusalem was destroyed at around 70 A.D.
Now nobody is claiming that this is the only reason we observed this behaviour in Jerusalem. For sure, the putting in common of possessions was also representative of the spiritual communion of the members of the new Church and of their preoccupation for the needs of the poor.
Yet, God knows how attached we can be to material goods. In order to preserve the new Church from destruction, His wisdom saw fit to ensure that the early Christians were "footloose". He's such a great strategist.
Are we ready to give up our possessions if need be? It might come sooner than we think if the uprising of the Left against the Church continues at this pace.