After the discussion had gone on a long time, Peter stood up and addressed the apostles and the 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 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.’
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you
During mission week, which was held a week before World Youth Day, I was placed in a foster home with a family of 2 parents and their 2 teenage children. The foster parents did not speak English at all and we communicated with help from their family friend and their children. On our last night at their home, we went out for a grand meal — we had wine and had some really nice Brazilian pizza with friends of our foster parents. While at the restaurant, my foster father gently reached for me and was stroking my hair just as he would have done to his daughter. It was a simple gesture that reminded me of his love for me as a father. After staying a week in their home and being cared for like their own child, I was convinced of their love for me. And that simple act of stroking my hair was another expression of his gentle fatherliness.
In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us that He loves us as much as the Father loves Him and I can imagine that any love shared between human beings cannot come close to the love that Jesus has for us. And because He is offering us this perfect love as our Father, He also teaches us that in order to be part of this love relationship, we need to keep his commandments. All this while also assuring us that it is possible to do so because He has been faithful to these same commandments. Today, He reminds us of His great love and how we can make it last, because He knows that it gives us great joy to know that we are part of a perfect union with Him.
Today, let us spend some quiet time before the Lord to recount the ways in which we feel loved by Him. Let us surrender the areas in our lives which need to be restored. Let us allow Him to love us in His terms and let us receive His abundant joy and share it with everyone we encounter today.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)
Prayer: Abba Father, use us as your instruments to proclaim your name to all nations. Let us sing for joy of your wondrous works today and all of our days. Forgive us for the times we failed to share you with others.
Thanksgiving: We proclaim your marvellous deeds and tell of your mighty deeds, our Lord and Father.