Acts of the Apostles 15:7-21
After the discussion had gone on a long time, Peter stood up and addressed the apostles and elders.
“My brothers,” he said, “you know perfectly well that in the early days God made his choice among you: the pagans were to learn the Good News from me and so become believers. In fact God, who can read everyone’s heart, showed his approval of them by giving the Holy Spirit to them just as he had to us. God made no distinction between them and us, since he purified their hearts by faith. It would only provoke God’s anger now, surely, if you imposed on the disciples the very burden that neither we nor our ancestors were strong enough to support? Remember, we believe that we are saved in the same way as they are: through the grace of the Lord Jesus.”
This silenced the entire assembly, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul describing all the signs and wonders God had worked through them among the pagans.
When they had finished it was James who spoke. “My brothers,” he said, “listen to me. Simeon has described how God first arranged to enlist a people for his name out of the pagans. This is entirely in harmony with the words of the prophets, since the scriptures say:
After that I shall return
and rebuild the fallen House of David;
I shall rebuild it from its ruins
and restore it.
Then the rest of mankind,
all the pagans who are consecrated to my name,
will look for the Lord,
says the Lord who made this known so long ago.
“I rule, then, that instead of making things more difficult for pagans who turn to God, we send them a letter telling them merely to abstain from anything polluted by idols, from fornication, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For Moses has always had his preachers in every town, and is read aloud in the synagogues every sabbath.”
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father has loved me,
so I have loved you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments
you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
I have told you this
so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy be complete.”
A short while ago, I learned that Greek Catholics are not bound by the term of transubstantiation and the belief of papal infallibility and is still able to remain in communion with Rome.
When I reflect on today’s first reading, I think about that, because the first reading tells us that the pagans who had become Christians were bound by different laws than the Jews who had become Christians.
As a Roman Catholic, I find that hard to understand. But then our hearts are purified by faith and not intellect, and somehow, through the grace of God, I was able to accept that explanation.
Likewise, I suppose that Greek Catholics are able, through the grace of God, to accept how the bread and wine is changed into the body and blood of Christ without the intellectual term of transubstantiation.
The Catholic faith has always been inclusive, and should never be exclusive or elite, reserved to only a few who believe a whole long list of doctrines. As such, there are very few doctrines that a person needs to accept in order to be saved.
The role of the Catholic Church is to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to non-Catholics, not just to the Catholics. As such, we need to be outward-looking and make our faith as simple as possible for non-Catholics to accept by not imposing on them a whole long list of doctrines that they need to believe in in order to be baptised, yet that list must not contradict the basic teachings of Christianity.
I like what one priest, I forget who, said before - God can be found in all religions. Each religion is to prepare a person to meet Christ. I remember this person is active in inter-religious dialogue. When he dialogues with the representatives of each religion, he is constantly amazed to find how, at the core of each religion, we are all the same - we are all seeking Christ, whether we know it or not.
As G. K. Chesterton says, “The man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.” We are all looking for God in our own ways. Some find Him because God reveals Himself directly to them. Others find God because God reveals Himself to them through the people that they come into contact with. We are that people through whom God reveals Himself.
Are we good reflections of God to those we meet? Do we show them the person of Christ?
Dear Lord, help us to draw ever closer to you so that we might be one with you and be able to reflect you to those we meet daily. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: Revealing Himself to us in different ways.
You Should Also Check Out This Post:
- Sunday, July 1 - Are you free to say ‘No’?
- Saturday, June 30 - Hospitality
- Friday, June 29 - Keeping the faith
- Wednesday, June 27 - The golden rule of truth
- Question: What’s the connection between pre-marital sex and adultery?