Some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, ‘Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.’ This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.
All the members of the church saw them off, and as they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria they told how the pagans had been converted, and this news was received with the greatest satisfaction by the brothers. When they arrived in Jerusalem they were welcomed by the church and by the apostles and elders, and gave an account of all that God had done with them.
But certain members of the Pharisees’ party who had become believers objected, insisting that the pagans should be circumcised and instructed to keep the Law of Moses. The apostles and elders met to look into the matter.
For cut off from me you can do nothing
In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us that without Him we cannot do anything and we do sometimes wonder how is it even possible that others who live out of communion with God are able to achieve great things. This reminds me of how things were with me a few years ago when I tried hard to portray independence to everyone behind a façade of staying on my own, going on solo trips and doing it all on my own. Looking back, I realise that all I was doing was to hide my dependence and interdepended on my family and friends, because being vulnerable meant I could get hurt and disappointed. When I was lonely, I always clung on to a few friends to hang out with me and when I was in need of auto-assistance, I would especially call on those who knew more than me in a particular area. It was my coping mechanism to stay safely away, while calling upon others only in time of need.
Just like how it used to be with me, some people treat their relationship with God in much the same way. The hearts and souls of each human being have a deep longing for the Lord. Some of us fuel this by actively seeking Him and accepting His constant invitations. On the other hand, some of us portray an indifferent and independent outlook, so that others will look at our money, relationships, and happiness and give us all the credit for our hard work. Most of us are guilty of hiding behind an addiction, person, sin, material things, endless work or a bad habit to temporarily fill that longing in our hearts for the Lord. As Saint Augustine said, “My soul will not rest until it rests in you.” We all yearn to remain in Him and it is no doubt that He invites us to do just that in today’s gospel.
A life which is rooted in Christ is simply fruitful and beautiful. You have the confidence that no matter what is happening in your life, you have a hope in a mighty God. You are comforted by God when, like the apostles Paul and Barnabas, you try to carry out the will of God in your life and your ministry. I liken it very much to being in love — you could smile to yourself and you long for the time when you meet Him again in the Eucharist; you are willing to burn the midnight oil to read the Bible. And because ‘being in love’ with God means glorifying the Father and bearing fruit, you can give up your best parking lot to an elderly lady, you can smile at the mischievous child at church and give up your helping of dessert so that you can offer it to the migrant worker.
Today, let us examine our lives to look at areas in our lives in which we are taking all the credit for, and areas where we do not acknowledge the hand of God in our lives. Let us be open to the ways of the Lord of love to become his disciples.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)
Prayer: Father God, help us to get real with you by coming to you to fill our need and desire for you. Fill us O Lord, until we cannot ask for more.
Thanksgiving: Thank you for pruning us and for being patient with us especially when we feel so self-sufficient and self-reliant.