First Reading: Acts 15:7-21; Psalm: 96. R. v. 3; Gospel: Jn 15:9-11
WE ARE ONE FAMILY
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 Christian fold. Paul and Barnabas had gone to Jerusalem to consult the apostles on this matter. Peter then spoke to the Christian community 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 Christians) 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 Christians. The gift of the Holy Spirit and faith in Jesus Christ essentially makes us 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 beliefs and personal sentiments still abound among Christians today who feel they can’t mingle with certain fellow Christians because of their 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 Jews and the Gentile Christians. Today, let us curb our excesses and listen to the voice of our priests that calls us to one faith in Jesus Christ not minding our differences.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, strengthen our faith that we may understand and accept ourselves as one family. Amen.