Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: May 6 (Thursday) Lectionary # 288. Acts 15:7-21. Psalm
96:1-2,2-3,10. John 15:9-11:
Peter takes the leadership role in the first “council” of the
Christian-Jewish community of Jerusalem. Christian because all are
followers of Jesus; Jewish because those mentioned and gathered are Jews
and are now at the point of seeing whether the Gentiles are to observe the
same laws as the newly converted ones from Jerusalem do. James the
overseer at Jerusalem represents the first converts and is open to
listening to Peter and to Paul and Barnabas. It is a peacful gathering and
the Holy Spirit is at work. Peter states he has been called to preach to
the Gentiles and has done so at Antioch. Paul and Barnabas are even more
involved with bringing in the Gentiles from their first missionary journey
around the surrounding countries and diverse peoples. In carefully reading
and listening to what Luke is saying we find out that God does not make
distinctions among peoples–all stem from God’s beneficient gift of life
through creating the human species. Their hearts, those of the Gentiles,
have been purified by their new born faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Peter continues to speak, “We are all saved by the favor of the Lord Jesus
and so are they.” Paul and Barnabas then address and tell the assembly of
the great positive response of the Gentiles to their message of witnessing
to Jesus and the Gospel. James then confirms what he is hearing from them
by saying that the words of God in the scriptures are being fulfilled–all
have a call to be holy people of God. Vatican II will take up the same
statement and say there is a universal call to holiness.
This results in three simple rules for the Gentiles to follow: “For the
Holy Spirit and we have decided to lay no further burden upon you but this
indispensable one, so that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and
from blood and from what is strangled and from immorality; keep yourselves
from these things and you will get on well. Farewell.” The longer Western
text of the Acts (D) adds the golden rule–“and they shall not do to others
what they do not wish done to themselves” thus giving them a simple law
that includes much of Christian morality–and Jewish for that matter! They
are not obligated to the ritual of circumcision; their sign of covenant in
Jesus’ name will be baptism.
In the Gospel Jesus emphasizes the gift of agape love (total self-giving).
This is the love that Jesus shares with us and wants us to respond with the
same love. The word love is mentioned five times within this very short
passage. We know that we are living that kind of love when we have the
fullness of peace and the joy which surpasses all other joys. “I tell you
this that my joy may be yours and your joy may be complete.” Amen.