Reflection on the Daily Readings for 5/13/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Acts 15:1-6. Psalm 122:1-2.3-4.4-5. John 15:1-8. Lectionary # 287.
Scenes from the Acts of the Apostles often correlate with what
happens in the Church today especially after Vatican II. We see some
similarity in today's reading where preparations are being made for the
first assembly of the house church representatives and the leaders and
apostles in Jerusalem. The first issue is whether circumcision should be
required for the Greeks and other ethnics entering the congregation of
those who believe that Jesus is the Messiah. There is need for more than
just person belief now that the church is growing and touching all sorts of
cultures. Paul and Barnabas will be the "periti" or experts for the
Gentiles while James and John and Peter representing the foundational
church at Jerusalem. Luke is ever mindful of the real and symbolic meaning
of Jerusalem as he guides us not only here in Acts but also as we have
seen, in the Gospel that he wrote. Tension and conflict are heightening on
the relationship of the Gentiles to the churches and to the Mosaic law. It
takes time for the "Cornelius lesson" to be learned and assimilated (see
Acts 10). Only a universal gathering can help the solution and this is
what Paul and Barnabas innaugurate.
There is need for great sensitivity to the Jewish Christians on
reasoning about this and Paul and Barnabas will be the leaders in what may
be considered the first ecumenical council of the church. The Gentiles will
be pleased with the dialogue that takes place and the church will continue
to grow. It is a great example of how we should work within the church with
all of the different cultures, traditions, and even theological
differences. But is this the case?.
Jesus calls us to deepen our discipleship through our being like the
branches on the vine. He tells us< "I am the vine; you are the branches."
We are reminded again by John that to be truly united to Jesus we need to
believe and to love doing his commandments of love. Both faith and love
blend at this point in Jesus' discourses and final words. If we remain in
Jesus we will be able to do what he does and even more, he tells us. Paul
learned this without ever seeing Jesus in the way the other disciples had
seen him. He even lives this out telling us "for me to live is
Christ." (Philippians 1:21). We should remember what Jesus has promised
us, namely, the gift of the Holy Spirit as Guide and Advocate
("Paraclete"). The final lines of today's readings confirm our being the
branches and Jesus the vine:"If you live in me and my words stay part of
you, you may ask what you will--it will be done for you. My Father has been
glorified in your bearing much fruit and becoming my disciples." Amen.
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