As I read the First Reading today, I had an image of people gathered together and involved in a lively debate to truly discern what they should think, how they should act, and really wondering what their next step would be. Peter, being comfortable in a leadership position, wants to make sure that everyone is on the same page by pointing out that they, as disciples of Jesus, are not the only chosen people and that they should not assume to have higher authority over others. The reading tells us, “He made no distinction between us and them, for by faith he purified their hearts.” In the first part of the reading I thought, Peter is really being a man For others and a man With others. He knows that not only will the disciples educate and influence but also knows that the disciples will be educated and influenced by the new Christian community.
The reading also reminds the disciples, and all of us, that we can trust, and that with prayer and reflection we “ will live the life we are called to live” and will be given all that we need to live this life. When the disciples are concerned about… putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear” we are reminded that, “ With God all things are possible.” Paul and Barnabas are witness to this when they describe the signs and wonders God worked through them. We simply need to ask God for the direction, then trust and then live life …
The First reading refers to earlier scripture, which stated, “ So that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord.” This reminds us that the earlier teachings were not exclusively for those of Jewish faith/heritage BUT for others as well who are also chosen people. The early scripture teachings come to life through the personhood of Jesus. It is time to reflect on these older teachings and readings and see how they have come to pass through the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ.
“Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all nations.” Once again the Old teachings now coming to pass and the New teachings are the new song given to everyone. We gather as equal people, Jewish and Gentile, rich and poor, as we try to live the examples given to us through the life of Jesus.
Finally, the Gospel is a real connection between the old and the new teachings as the early church blends the two together. For the faith filled Jewish people, this Gospel speaks to a continuation of the commandandments given from God to Moses. Jesus reminds everyone who listens to his teachings, that following these earlier/ older commandments continues to be extremely important in the life of Jesus and to us. Our challenge seems to be, not only how to be faithful to the earlier commandments given to us via Moses, BUT also how best to keep abreast of God’s desires for us. We are invited to live our lives, following the examples of Jesus, sharing our gifts with others so to experience what Jesus tells us, “ My joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.”
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