First Reading: Acts 15:7-21; Psalm: 96. R. v. 3; Gospel: Jn 15:9-11
ONE IN CHRIST JESUS
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
An unprecedented dispute arose in the Church in Antioch between the Jews and the Gentiles. The bone of contention was circumcision. Some narrow-minded Jews who considered it a taboo for the Jews to mingle with the Gentiles came down to Antioch and taught that unless the Gentile converts were circumcised according to the Jewish custom they will not be saved or welcomed into the company of believers. Paul and Barnabas had gone to Jerusalem to consult the apostles on this matter. Peter then spoke to the community of believers regarding this issue.
Peter reminded this narrow-minded Jews of how God accepted the household of Cornelius by sending down the Holy Spirit upon them (Acts 10:34-48). Even though by law these Gentiles were ceremonially unclean, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on them had cleansed their hearts. “If God made no distinction between us and them” (The Gentiles), Peter said, “Who then are you (addressing the Jewish believers) to tempt God by placing this burden on the Gentiles.” (Acts 15:9-10). Peter’s point was clear. There should be no distinctions between the Jewish and the Gentile believers. The gift of the Holy Spirit and faith in Jesus Christ essentially makes them one.
Open conflicts are sometimes necessary in order for issues to be clearly resolved. If two parties are silently in conflict with each other, reconciliation will be impossible. Cultural biases and personal sentiments still abound among Christians today who feel they can’t mingle with certain fellow Christians because of their culture or way of life. We need to desist from causing division among God’s people lest we will be tempting God. The voice of Peter and James (the brother of the Lord) ended the dissension between the Jewish and the Gentile believers. Today, let us curb our excesses and listen to the voice of the Church that calls us to one faith in Jesus Christ not minding our differences.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, strengthen our faith and unite your Church in love for you. Amen.