May 24, 2019
by Thomas Quinn
Creighton University's School of Medicine
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 289

Acts 15:22-31
Psalms 57:8-9, 10 and 12
John 15:12-17

Daily Easter Prayer

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Finding Our Way Back Home: Getting Un-Stuck in Prayer Life

I often find that I do not internalize a passage of scripture until I have paused not only to reflect on it, but to project myself into the surroundings and the perceived personalities of those mentioned.  Today, as we read from the Acts of the Apostles, 15:22-31, and from John 15:15:12-17, it is easy to imagine that there is considerable excitement in the small group of Apostles and elders; they were about to choose two men to accompany Paul and Barnabas on a journey to Antioch, Syria, and to Cilicia.  They would not only visit new groups of primarily gentile converts, but they would exhort them, and inform them of some basic rules of the burgeoning church.  One problem that they would address both in writing and in person was dietary restrictions. Their letter detailed the prohibition against eating meat sacrificed to idols, eating blood was proscribed, as was eating meat from strangled animals. Their diet would, in other words, be reminiscent of that described in the Mosaic Laws. I can imagine that the mission of the travelers was also to underline the presence of the Holy Spirit in the decisions of the early Church. “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit, and of us, not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities.”  From the beginnings of the Church, the love and care of God was conveyed to all who would open their lives to it. The Church was growing, the authority of the church was being established, and the pastoral care of the followers of Jesus was made even more evident to the new converts.  The words from today’s gospel reading: “…I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain” truly describes not only the mission of Paul, Barnabas, Judas (Barsabas), and Silas, but our ‘s as well.  Paul would eventually travel about seven thousand miles on his journeys to spread the word of God; he eventually paid with his life.

Paul’s actions and his fate are presaged in the seminal words of Jesus: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s own life for one’s friends.”  The Gospel according to John, especially chapter 15, has always been at the core of my love and belief in the teachings of Christ. Jesus states both at the beginning and at the end of this chapter the core sentiment of his message; “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”  He constantly reassures us by telling us that we were chosen by him to be his friends. We know how to be the friends of Jesus because Jesus said,” I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.”  When our lives are darkest and we most need God’s love, we can recall that Jesus has told us that, as his friends, whatever we ask of the Father in his name, He may give to us.

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