May 19, 2017
Jesus said to his disciples: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.” Jn_15:12-17
The Apostles wrote to the new Christians of Gentile origin in Antioch: ‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage.’ Acts_15:22-31
Jesus refers to His disciples as not being slaves: where a slave is someone who, willingly or unwillingly, obeys orders; where there is little or no recompense for obedience; where there is a grave cost for disobedience; and where there is often no clear understanding of the reason for the order.
In the early days of Moses, the Israelites worked as slaves to the Egyptians, enduring hunger, beatings and even death for disobedience. We often relate that slavery to our own slavery to sin.
And we connect the emancipation of the Jews through Moses with our redemptive Baptism in Christ; knowing, of course, that it wasn’t Moses, nor the water, that caused those Freedoms, but God.
Then, as that emancipated Jewish nation developed and organized a system of – do’s and don’ts, all stemming from Moses’ basic Commandments, which were originally designed
for the well-being of everyone, they eventually became so entangled in a massive set of their own laws, that they now, had to depend on lawyers, called Scribes and Pharisees, to interpret it all . . . While, the basics of ‘well-being‘, and Love, and God – all fell by the wayside.
Then, along came Jesus, pointing out that it wasn’t the Laws that were the problem. It was their loss of understanding of the basic point of it all: to love God and to love their neighbor.
Of course, this put all of those lawyers on edge, because having the upper hand on the legal system was their livelihood. They, in essence, were the slave-masters over all of the rest of the lay-Jews. And those Jews became the Slaves, all over again.
Jesus said there is only One critically important Commandment or Law. And that is – to Love one another: where obedience will set you free, while disobedience will again enslave you to all of the pain that a lack of love causes.
Of course, this revelation not only caused the uproar of the Sanhedrin, leading to the crucifixion of Jesus, but it extended well into the Christian era, where many of the Jewish believers in Jesus still had a hard time letting go of that legal system of rituals, like circumcision and kosher foods; letting go enough to allow the Gentiles into the faith without great pain.
Thus, today we heard the results of the First Council of the Church. We saw how, in the Church’s infancy, the Authority of decision-making was given to Peter and the Apostles.
We saw how the Apostles themselves relied upon the Holy Spirit in order to make those critical decisions.
And we saw how the Compromise between the strict adherence to the Law – demanded by the Christian Pharisees, and the Loving respect for both the pagan Gentiles and the Jewish Converts – demanded by God, delighted everyone.
THIS is the kind of Love that Jesus Commanded.
And this is the Love that Frees all of us to truly BE the Children that God created us to be.
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