May 22, 2019
by Eileen Wirth
Creighton University's Department of Journalism, Media and Computing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 287

Acts 15:1-6
Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5
John 15:1-8

Daily Easter Prayer

Celebrating Easter

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.” - Acts

Spoiler Alert: the early church rejected the belief that circumcision was essential to salvation. But this passage from Acts carries an important message for today because it reminds us how often people tell us what God demands for salvation.

This can be merely annoying but becomes horrific when zealous believers feel God is telling them to attack those who disagree with them. We have been tragically reminded three times recently – hopefully not more by the time this appears. 

A story in the Washington Post reported today that the man who attacked the San Diego synagogue hated and killed Jews partially because of a warped version of Christianity that he had absorbed at his church. The murderers of Catholics in Sri Lanka at Easter Mass and the killer of Muslims at prayer in New Zealand also purported to carry out God’s wishes. 

Really???? Have we heard from God?

Creighton Jesuit Larry Gillick S.J. once told me that if we aren’t careful, the voice of God can sound a lot like our own egos. Just because we think something is so doesn’t mean that God agrees with us.

Growing up in the pre-Vatican II church, I remember when we thought God demanded that women cover our heads before entering church. We actually took this seriously. If we didn’t have a chapel veil (or a ratty tissue) to plop on our heads, we worried about whether we should attend Mass. Did God ever care?

What does God most likely care about? I come down to Jesus’ two great commandments to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. As to who is my neighbor, Jesus spells it out in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Beatitudes also cannot be beat for guidance on loving others and living the way God desires.

If we focus on loving and serving others and don’t worry much about incidentals like circumcision and chapel veils, we can’t go wrong. At a minimum, we harm no one because of the scripture they profess or the language in which they pray.

Let’s let God decide about salvation and focus on following his essential commandments.

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