Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter

posted in: Easter, Homilies | 0

Today’s readings

In our first reading today, we have from the Acts of the Apostles a rather defining moment for the early Church.  Jesus hadn’t given them a precise rule book of how to make the Church develop: he simply sent them out to baptize.  But he also told them to make disciples of all the nations, and that’s what’s at stake in today’s reading.  The Gentile nations didn’t observe all the laws that were part of the Jewish culture.  And so admitting non-Jews to the Church meant deciding whether they had to be circumcised, and whether they had to observe all the other laws of the Old Testament, as they had.

Well, obviously, this little mini-council, swayed by the great stories of Paul and Barnabas, hearing all the wondrous deeds that God was doing among them, decided that the Spirit could call anyone God wanted to be disciples, and they shouldn’t get in the way.  So they decide to impose very little upon them, outside of avoiding idol worship and unlawful marriage, very basic things. 

And then the Psalmist’s prophecy, “Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations” came to pass.  Think about it: because the disciples agreed to allow the Gentiles to come to Christianity in their own way, the proliferation of the Gospel was put into warp speed.  If it weren’t for this little council, we very well might not be Christians today.  Praise God for the movement of the Spirit!

And now the command comes to us: we have to be the ones to proclaim God’s deeds to everyone, and not to make distinctions that marginalize other people.  God’s will is not fulfilled until every heart has the opportunity to respond to his love.  So we who know the Lord, now need to help others to know him.  We have to go beyond what we know in our head and bring it to our heart, so that we can love other people the way he has loved us.  When they experience that love in us, they will be attracted to come to know about Jesus too.

That’s how it happened in the early Church.  That’s why Paul and the others were so successful.  That’s why the Gentiles couldn’t get enough of the faith.  We can reignite that fire in our world today if we bring our experience of the Lord to the world who desperately needs his love and presence.

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!