Reflection on the Daily Readings for 5/15/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Fri. of 5th week of Easter. Acts 15:22-31. Psalm 57:8-9,10-12.
John 15:12-17. Lectionary # 289:
Letters handwritten are a special source of joy when they come unexpectedly
from our friends. We see a bit of their personality in the way they write.
We learn of the first letter written in the New Testament even before
Paul’s letters. It is the apostolic letter that will be read to the Gentile
converts to Christianity and its message does bring peace and encouragement
to the people of Antioch in Syria, and those in Cilicia. Luke tells us,
“When it was read there was great delight at the encouragement it gave.
Judas(not Iscariot) and Silas, who were themselves prophets, strengthened
the community and gave them reassurance in a long discourse.”
The work of the Holy Spirit was within the community of those who
deliberated, namely, the apostles and elders. Peter and James were
prominent and they reached agreement with Barnabas and Paul that the
Gentiles would not be bound to the Mosaich law nor the ritual of
circumcision. They were to follow three simple rules: to avoid eating meat
sacrificed to idols, and meat from which blood the source of life has not
be drained, and finally to avoid sexual immorality, for example, incest.
These stemmed from Leviticus 17 and 18. Of course, they had to obey the
Ten Words (ten commandments) that Moses had given to the Israelites on
tablets of stone.
The gathering in Jerusalem and the consensus reached by listening to one
another and realizing the work of the Holy Spirit resulted in good news for
the whole world of that time. Now everyone was open to the word of God and
could respond to it with reasonable requirements for those who did not
follow the Mosaic laws. We experienced something similar when Pope John
XXIII opened the Vatican II Council and brought the sweeping breath of the
Holy Spirit into the Catholic Church. Vatican II opened on October 11,
1962 and closed in December of 1965 issuing the sixteen documents that were
the equivalent of apostolic letters to all the faithful. Amen.