Acts 15:22-31 Reflection:
Today’s first reading is very important in the history of the Church for in it we see several elements. First there is the central authority of the apostles who assume the right to make a decision but they say that it is in line with the thinking of the Holy Spirit.
Second, they chose delegates and handed to them the authority to speak on their behalf. These delegates would be able to pass the new message on and if anyone disagreed they had the definitive letter, written at the council, to read to the people. The Church was definitely forming her own structures and was well on the way to formally breaking with Judaism.
Here is a short quote from today’s reading:
The apostles and elders decided to choose delegates to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; the whole church concurred with this. (Note the unity of the Church on matters of teaching)They chose Judas and Silas, and gave them this letter to take with them:
“It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols; from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication. Avoid these, and you will do what is right. Farewell.”
Again, here we see the phrase, ‘It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves,’ used. If you read any of the Vatican II documents you shall see this type of wording used. To understand the Catholic Church you have to understand that she sees herself as having the authority to say this, to speak what the Holy Spirit says and to pass what the Spirit say on to the world.