Scripture: 1st Reading: Acts15,22-31; Resp. Psalm: Ps57,8-12; Gosp. Accl.: Jn15,15; Gospel: Jn15,12-17
The Holy Spirit decided in favour of the unity of the Church. The Spirit led the Apostles and the elders of the Church to make the right decisions and avert a potential break up of the Church. The Apostles put aside their pride and clinging to positions.
They left aside their ego and insistence on the fact that things must be done their own way. They put aside their insistence on the observance of the Mosaic law of circumcision that had always given anyone entry into the covenant Yahweh made with Abraham and his descendants.
The Apostles only insisted on the most basic things, that the new converts continue to distinguish themselves by abstaining from pernicious pagan practises, like eating meat sacrificed to idols, abstinence from blood, from what is strangled and from unchastity. What the new converts needed to do was to keep the commandment of love as given to them by the Lord Jesus. That was enough.
The Holy Spirit led them to the triumph of reason over emotion, of truth over falsehood. The Spirit enlightened their hearts and minds to real discernment of what needed to be done. They listened and obeyed the voice of God, knowing fully well that the enterprise did not belong to them. The Church was not theirs; the Church belonged to God. He was the final arbiter in all situations and cases.
That decision made the gospel to become quickly disseminated in the non-Jewish, pagan and Hellenist environments of the Old Roman Empire. The Apostles succeeded in carrying out their Master's task because they stuck to the commandment of love as given to them by the Lord Himself. They loved one another as the Lord loved them.
They looked at the example and life of the Lord and the source, origin and motivation for their expressions of love. They looked at the extreme example He gave when He laid down His life for them as the highest expression of His love. They did as He did. They carried out what He commanded them.
The Apostles knew that for them to bear fruit, they had to constantly remind themselves that they were not the ones who chose themselves. They were not the ones who chose the Master they wanted. The Master Himself, our Lord Jesus Christ, was the One who chose, appointed and sent them out to bear fruit that should abide.
The Apostles knew and believed that if they followed the commands of their Master, and abide in Him, they would bear fruit that would abide. They knew that if they were steadfast in their calling, they would receive everything they asked the Father in the name of their Master. They knew that if they loved one another, nothing would be too great for God to grant to them. They lived in love. They bore great fruits.
The challenge of Christianity today is real, authentic, God oriented love. The absence of this in the lives of believers hamper the work of evangelization. This is because the incarnation of the message is not seen in the lives of most modern witnesses. In the absence of this essential ingredient of discipleship, many who are brought to the faith remain on the periphery and become half baked believers.
The lives of believers in the early Church continue to call our commitment to the Lord into question. We are invited to allow the direction of the Spirit in our efforts to witness to the Lord. We are challenged to practise authentic, real and God oriented love so that our lives could become authentic testimony to the faith we profess.
Let us pray: "Grant us, Lord, we pray, that being rightly conformed to the paschal mysteries, what we celebrate in joy may protect and save us with perpetual power." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.