Acts 15:22-31 Reflection:
The council of Jerusalem has come to an end and now the apostles are deciding how to send the new instructions out to Antioch. They elect men to travel with Paul and Barnabas. They chose two men, Judas and Silas, and gave them letters of introduction.
The gentile converts at Antioch converts are given rather simple instructions on joining the new faith: abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood and not to eat the meat of strangled animals, and no fornication.
There is to be none of the long list of Jewish Law with circumcision and all the Law’s rules to be imposed on the new converts. A new religion is being formed, which bypasses all the old Law and its rules. This is a big moment in the history of our church.
There is also another very interesting point in today’s first reading. The letter also says: “It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and ourselves not to burden you...”
The council of Jerusalem assumed the authority to interpret what the Holy Spirit was saying to the church. This was totally at odds with the Jewish way of understanding God. The Jews had the scriptures but believed that no one could fully understand what they meant or what God was doing in the world. This new group was claiming to know what the Spirit wanted and claiming the authority to speak out and say what the Spirit meant.
These were decisive moments in the self understanding of the Church. As we come up to the feast of Pentecost we shall read a lot more about this work of the Spirit.