Acts 15:1-6 Reflection:
In today’s first reading we have something that we are all guilty off, the imposing of rules on others. The reading begins:
“Some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers: Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.
This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.”
Paul was having nothing of it. He knew that once we begin imposing conditions on people we are driving a wedge between us and them. Having met Jesus in his great conversion vision, Paul knew that love and how we live by love was all that counts. Humans are so good at telling others how to live, what the rules are and how only the good people can obey the rules. Yet Paul knew that we are full of failure and that if we impose conditions we are separating ourselves from love, love of God and love or our neighbour.
This is also the background to one of the most important events in the early church. Since they could not agree on a solution, Paul and Barnabas decided to go to Jerusalem to have a meeting with the other apostles; this was the ‘Council of Jerusalem’ the first council of the Church.
Here for the first time we see the Church coming together as a group to talk out the problem and listen to the Holy Spirit and what he is saying to us. The same is going on today. Last October we had the council on the family and the second part of that council is happening this October.
The Church always appears to be slow to act but when she does act she does so decisively and with moral authority. The council of Jerusalem was the first of many, but the Church is always humble enough to listen to God. That is what keeps her on the right path.