READINGS for 2006-05-17
FRUITS FROM THE BRANCH
??.As long as you remain in Me and I in you, you bear much fruit?? ? John 15:5b
I gave my YES to Jesus in 1980. That was 26 years ago. The first six years I spent as a solo Christian. Then, He called me to community life; the last 4 years with the Secular Augustinian Recollects ? a contemplative, communitarian, apostolic and Marian religious order.
Do we pray for an anointing to stay with Jesus and remain in Him forever?
The Early Church is like any other organization ? it has struggles trying to identify the ideas and thoughts that are essential to its essence and those that are merely incidental to it. Chapter 15 of the Acts of the Apostles describes this process for us as the Church authorities discuss a number of issues critical to its life. We believe that it was and still is today, the guidance of the Holy Spirit that helps the Church to make the right decisions as regards dogma and doctrine.
1 Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, ?Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.? 2 Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and presbyters about this question. 3 They were sent on their journey by the church, and passed through Phoenicia and Samaria telling of the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. 4 When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, as well as by the apostles and the presbyters, and they reported what God had done with them. 5 But some from the party of the Pharisees who had become believers stood up and said, ?It is necessary to circumcise them and direct them to observe the Mosaic law.? 6 The apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter.
P S A L M
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
R: Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
G O S P E L
This is precisely what sin does to us ? it burns us up from both the inside and the outside. The seductive power of sin is like the alluring power of a fire on a cold night ? everyone is drawn in close ? though not too close in case one gets burnt! So it is with sin. We are drawn by a good but we are drawn to the good in an imperfect way and so we are ultimately damaged or hurt by the experience. The only way to avoid this is to constantly work at purifying the motives of our hearts and minds.
1 ?I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. 2 He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. 3 You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. 4 Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.?
God?s special verse/thought for me today________________
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Job 29-32
CIRCUMCISION AND SALVATION
Everything seems to be going pretty well for Paul and Barnabas. At least the stone-throwing Jews opposed to them were already far behind and there were a growing number of believers in Antioch who were passionate to follow the Lord wholeheartedly. What came next in today?s reading was unexpected and bitterly disappointing. The external hindrance to the Gentiles? conversion had now been replaced by an internal one, directly coming from their own Jewish brothers insisting that the Gentiles be circumcised in order for them to be saved. These days we either laugh at this or blush. But before we throw these men out, we must give them a fair hearing. Circumcision (like baptism) is the mark of the Covenant with Yahweh. According to Christopher West, it represents the Cross because in circumcision there is the breaking of the skin and the shedding of the blood. Circumcision is a pre-figuration of the Cross and it has value for Jewish men. But here is where these men got it wrong. They equated the symbol of circumcision to salvation. They narrowed down salvation according to their own rigid ? and physically painful ? terms. This is what Paul and Barnabas is fuming against. While they labor to proclaim that the message of the Cross is a gift of grace, here comes their own telling the crowd: ?Sorry guys but there?s no such thing as a free lunch. You?ve got to be circumcised to be saved.? Some of us may be concerned with the form or expression of religion and spirituality (like the proper color of altar candles) but lack the substance that should be at the heart of it. Our salvation has never been through our own workings but through the gift of God in Christ Jesus. Our piety should be nothing more than a response of love to this work of salvation. Salvation is first and foremost an initiative of God. We could do nothing to level it. Some perhaps aren?t trying to ?earn? their salvation but are working on the principle of ?since I owe you one, God, I?ll make it up to you.? Paul and Barnabas knew that once we operate in this mentality, we lose something. We lose the profound truth that salvation is no mere transaction. God saved us because He is a lover and that?s what lovers do. Bro. Noel C.
Jesus, thank You that your salvation is free and that there?s nothing I could do to earn it. Lord, give me a grateful heart and heal that broken part of me that still seeks to earn Your favor even though it now rests in me. Amen.
St. Paschal Baylon, confessor, pray for us.
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