This week’s readings were all about uncertainty, the fear of the unknown. As the priest said during his Homily, the disciples were concerned about what they were going to do after Jesus left them…and what was going to be done to them. They learned that they are never truly alone; even when they knew Jesus wouldn’t physically be with them.
There was also the uncertainty of what is expected of the Gentiles; these earliest non-Jewish Christians. Are they expected to follow the same dietary rules? Apparently the disciples weren’t all on the same page; as the priest said, they “came close to drawing blood”. Can you imagine the arguments/debates they must have had?
I did have an “AHA” moment reading the first Reading:
‘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: 29
Again, I’m no theologian, but is this where being able to eat fish on Fridays originated? It makes perfect sense to me that it is.
The priest stated that 1 fact remains: Jesus will always be with us. Throughout all of the Councils, beginning with the Council of Jerusalem as described in the first Reading all the way up to Vatican II, there is consistency because you can’t change what God has revealed. He said that some people say that the Church is out of touch, but he indicated that it was a good thing because that means we have more of a chance to be in step with God, again, because you can’t change what God has revealed.
I thought it was neat the way the priest tied the Reading and the Gospel together. The message in both of them is the same: We aren’t alone. Jesus is always with us, especially in the Sacraments, and most especially in the Eucharist. As the priest said, “don’t let our hearts be afraid, because He is always with us.” I had a moment of thinking he was going to burst out in song when he said that “we’ll never walk alone”. He ended the Homily by saying that God only wants thanks for what all we have been given, all He has done for us.
It’s hard to imagine how the disciples felt about Jesus physically being there, knowing He wasn’t going to stay. The Homily put a different light on how they must have felt: the beginning of Christianity was put on their shoulders. Some of the Jews turned their backs on them, but then they had to determine God’s will for the Gentiles to become Christians. Apparently, it wasn’t all hugs and kisses. ePriest compared how they must have felt to loved ones who leave for the military: they assure their loved ones that they’ll be back. And they’re missed terribly.
The Word Among Us shared this definition of peace: It's the grace to be holy and resist evil. It's the grace to forgive. It's the grace to remind us that God is with us and we leave nothing to fear. (Jn 14:27)
May we not let our hearts be afraid, and may we all have the peace of God in our hearts.