Wednesday of the 5th Week of Easter
Acts of the Apostles 15:1-6
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5
Dissention and Debate in the Church?
Imagine! Dissention and debate in Antioch among some of the earliest Christians! They are arguing about whether the old rules apply to everyone… Sound familiar?
Since Moses received the Covenant from God all male believers were circumcised. In more recent times some Gentiles had come to believe in the God of Abraham. Some converted to Judaism and were circumcised. The majority were not circumcised and were called “God Fearers”. Both regularly associated with the Jews of Hebrew descent and adopted most of their traditions.
The now Christian Pharisees, who defended the Torah and the traditions very carefully, insisted that “God Fearers” who became Christian must fulfill all of the practices of the righteous Jews. Paul (and eventually Peter) argued that their experience of how God was working in their midst demonstrated that God did not expect the new converts to practice circumcision!
How did they resolve the dispute? Paul, Barnabas and some of the others (probably including some of the Pharisees) … were sent by the Church… to go up to Jerusalem to the Apostles and presbyters. In other words, the Assembly of Christians sent their elders to consult with the founding Elders who were Apostles and Presbyters (elders who were the forerunners of our priests) who had followed Jesus personally or been converted by those who had. And these met together to see about this matter. A model we still follow today, albeit in much larger delegations and convocations.
To learn the outcome, read tomorrow’s passage from the Acts of the Apostles.
Fr. John M. Lee, C.P., is Retreat Director at Bishop Molloy Retreat House, “The Passionist Spiritual Center in New York City”, www.bishopmolloy.org