First Reading: Acts 15:22-31; Psalm: 57. R. v. 10a; Gospel: Jn 15:12-17
THE WISDOM OF THE APOSTLES
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
There was an issue to be addressed among the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. This time around it wasn’t anything regarding circumcision. It was about desisting from food sacrificed to idols. The apostles and the elders in Jerusalem were very careful in communicating their exhortative letter regarding this practice. Paul and Barnabas were supposed to convey this letter but the apostles and elders also appointed Judas (not Judas Iscariot) and Silas, leading men of the church in Jerusalem to accompany Paul and Silas so they can testify by word of mouth that this letter was from the apostles. The reason was that the Gentile believers had previous entertained guests from the Jewish camp in Jerusalem who were not sent by the apostles but came on their own and gave a controversial teaching regarding circumcision. This caused serious division in the Church and the apostles didn’t want a repeat of it.
When the letter was delivered and read to the Gentiles, they rejoiced at the exhortation and accepted the reprimanding words of the apostles as read from the letter. Their reaction to this letter was very different from their previous reaction to the wrong teaching on circumcision that was delivered by some overbearing Jewish believers who came on their own from Jerusalem.
One very striking thing about this incident was how meticulous the apostles were in handling the gospel message. Their style of teaching was very accommodating and fruitful. They avoided any form of discrimination in their teaching and made sure the people accepted it for what it was. Unlike the overbearing Jewish believers who taught that circumcision was the only way to belong to the Christian fold, the apostles never discriminated but only reprimanded the Gentiles when necessary, accommodating them still as part of the fold. To the Gentile Christians who ate food sacrificed to idols the apostles said: “If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well” (Acts 15:29). Approach and sensitiveness has powerful effect.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, may our words and actions be guided by your inspiration. Amen.