Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday word, 11 May 2007

5Easter Friday (11 May 2007) Ac 15. 22-31; Ps 57; Jn 15. 12-17
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

The Acts of the Apostles, the portrait of the infant church, contains only one decree. Because only one exists it means it is important. The church, whose members were first Jewish, like Jesus, quickly grew with people from many races and nations.

Embracing different people questioned if everything Jewish applied to people who weren’t Jewish when both believed in Jesus as Messiah and Savior. That is what the decree we heard decided to answer. Not all Jewish customs had to be practiced by non-Jews.

In fact, not to eat meat from animals sacrificed to idols, not to eat blood or use strangled animals for food and not to marry unlawfully came from Noah’s time, long before Moses and the Jewish religion Jesus grew to know and practice.

Deciding this was not easy for the apostles. It was a discernment, a decision made in line with Jesus’ Holy Spirit. That is what the only decree in the Acts of the Apostles was, and it is easy for us to miss: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond [those] necessities.”

This turning point in the Acts of the Apostles is why we are here, why we are disciples of risen Jesus. Learning the way of Jesus and loving as he loves us makes us his disciples. Sometimes it isn’t easy to learn his way and love as he loves us. Discernment is Spirit-led seeking of these so that we can be more loving, more authentic friends of Jesus each day.
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