The Lord Makes No Distinction

Homily for Thursday of the 5th Week of Easter

Our First Reading this morning is a continuation of the passage we heard yesterday, describing the meeting of the Apostles and the priests of the Early Church on whether the Christian community should follow the strict laws of the Jewish faith. This meeting would eventually come to be known as the Council of Jerusalem. Ultimately, those Pharisees who had converted to the Christian faith wanted the Gentiles who were converting to follow the laws of the Torah, the laws that had guided the Jewish community for centuries. Unfortunately, what many of them couldn’t see is how impossible that would be for most of the Gentile Christians.

To me, this begs the question, what was the intention behind making this a requirement for the Gentiles? Was it to honor the tradition of the Jewish faith? Or, was it to keep the Gentiles out of the Christian community? Judging by the responses of Peter and James, I would say the latter.

As we saw in the time of Jesus, He constantly called out the Pharisees for failing to care for the Jewish people in the way that they were supposed to. The Law had become their idol, in a sense, and it prevented them from seeing how the Lord was working in their midst. That still seems to be an issue with those who would convert to Christianity. They still miss the point. They still believe as if holiness depends solely on fulfilling the Law. Thankfully though, the other Apostles here get it right. The Lord makes no distinction on whether someone was a Jew or a Gentile before coming to faith in Jesus. All that matters is that they believe in Jesus as the Messiah, they follow the commands of the Lord, and strive to love the Lord.

Sometimes we can fall into the same trap that some of the early Christians did, think that we are better Christians or more worthy than others simply because we observe more of the teachings of the Church and the Ten Commandments or because we pray more than others. Every person’s journey of faith is unique. The Lord is moving and acting in the hearts of our brothers and sisters in ways that we don’t always see.

Instead of being judgmental toward others, let’s ask the Lord how He would like us to pray for those people. Let’s ask Him for the ability to be Jesus for others, to be loving toward others, to accompany others in their journey of faith. That’s what being a Christian is all about. It’s about walking with each other, leading each other to Jesus, leading each other toward the goal of Heaven. May that always be our intention.

Photo: Primacy of Peter, stained glass window from Cologne Cathedral of the Council of Jerusalem, by Lawrence, O.P. Used under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Creative Commons license.

Published by Fr. Tom Pringle

Priest of the Diocese of Orlando. Parochial Vicar at Holy Family Catholic Church, Orlando.

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