May 6, 2021
Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter
After much debate had taken place,
Peter got up and said to the Apostles and the presbyters,
“My brothers, you are well aware that from early days
God made his choice among you that through my mouth
the Gentiles would hear the word of the Gospel and believe.
And God, who knows the heart,
bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit
just as he did us.
He made no distinction between us and them,
for by faith he purified their hearts.
Why, then, are you now putting God to the test
by placing on the shoulders of the disciples
a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?
On the contrary, we believe that we are saved
through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they.”
The whole assembly fell silent,
and they listened
while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders
God had worked among the Gentiles through them.
After they had fallen silent, James responded,
“My brothers, listen to me.
Symeon has described how God first concerned himself with acquiring from among the Gentiles a people for his name.
The words of the prophets agree with this, as is written:
After this I shall return
and rebuild the fallen hut of David;
from its ruins I shall rebuild it
and raise it up again,
so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord,
even all the Gentiles on whom my name is invoked.
Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things,
known from of old.
It is my judgment, therefore,
that we ought to stop troubling the Gentiles who turn to God,
but tell them by letter to avoid pollution from idols,
unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals, and blood.
For Moses, for generations now,has had those who proclaim him in every town,as he has been read in the synagogues every sabbath.”
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love 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 joy might be in you and
your joy might be complete.”
Does anyone remember what we were talking about two weeks ago? How about last week?
Just two weeks ago we were talking about how the Holy Spirit fit into this whole Father and Son relationship. Last week, Jesus was telling us how he and the Father are one.
Now, this week we hear about Love and Joy.
Young people fall in love and that first love brings them so much Joy.
I remember my first Love. It was a dog. But what I remember most was how much Joy that love for the dog brought to me. All of us experience that love and joy in our spouses, our children, our churches – any number of things.
Jesus is who we should really love, and he talks today about the Love he has for the Father and the Father for him and the Joy that brings to them. Then he says he loves us and if we love him and keep his commandments (love your enemy, turn the other cheek, etc.) then our Joy will be complete.
And yet, there is the reading from Acts today. We find the early church almost at a schism. The older Jews and the new and fresh Gentiles.
Paul and Barnabas have been with the Gentiles who are eating up the teachings of Jesus, but they aren’t excited about the diet and the rules, especially circumcision, that the Jews are expecting. So, Barnabas and Paul come to Jerusalem to tell what they are hearing and seeing. The older Jews are saying the Gentiles need to become Jews or they cannot follow Jesus. Paul speaks very eloquently on behalf of what God had called him to do with the Gentiles. And as he speaks the room falls silent. Afterwards, James – the cousin of Jesus – stands and says that it’s not about the rules but about the mission. It’s about the Word of God – Jesus – and what will happen with all who hear the message.
We can’t force people to be like us. We shouldn’t try. We need to let people hear the word and let God change them. Jesus brought us the Word of God. The Holy Spirit drew us to that Word. And God indeed will teach us all. Share the Word, Share the Love and Share the Joy.
At least that’s what I heard Him say…