Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
by Sr. Joseph Fennimore, OSB
The Holy Spirit has been guiding and giving life and strength to the Church through the centuries. The Spirit has done this not only through the Pope and the hierarchy but also through its individual members. The Holy Spirit encourages with her grace each member to seek God and live in such a way that brings about the kingdom of God.
In the Gospel reading for this Sunday Jesus promises this gift of the Holy Spirit to his apostles, his disciples and their followers. This Spirit will bring to their minds again and again in various ways all that Jesus has taught them. She will help them devise methods of instruction so that all peoples will understand. These followers will understand to the degree that they will be moved to live the Christian life and assist others to live this life and achieve the kingdom of God.
What is read from the Acts of the Apostles today is the story of an early Church council in Jerusalem. The Church had spread from Jerusalem through Palestine into Asia Minor. Gentiles along with Jews were now being accepted into the Church. The question arose, “Was it necessary that the Gentiles be circumcised?” Paul and Barnabas recognized that they could not answer this question on their own, so they took it to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. Through prayer, discussion, discernment, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit they reached the decision that the Gentiles did not have to be circumcised. This decision was sent out to all the Christian communities that had been established through those who had been chosen by the leaders in Jerusalem. In this way the Holy Spirit was moving the infant Church out into the world through its members, continuing the growth that had begun in Jerusalem.
The growth of the Church continues today in and through its members from the Pope, its ordained ministers, and down to the laity by the action of the Holy Spirit. Each of us have received the Holy Spirit through the sacraments, especially Baptism and Confirmation. Through the Spirit’s inspiration we have the grace, wisdom, and fortitude to increase the life of the Church in the world and thus bring about the reign of God. Are we aware of this power and action of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
From the Rule of St. Benedict
“Just as there is a wicked zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell, so there is a good zeal which separates from evil and leads to God and everlasting life.”
Chapter 72, vs. 1-2, Good Zeal
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord, and my Father will love that one and we will come to that person.” John 14:23