Daily Gospel

Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Reading 1 (Acts 15:22-31)

The Apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole Church,
decided to choose representatives
and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.
The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas,
and Silas, leaders among the brothers.
This is the letter delivered by them:
"The Apostles and the presbyters, your brothers,
to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia
of Gentile origin: greetings.
Since we have heard that some of our number
who went out without any mandate from us
have upset you with their teachings
and disturbed your peace of mind,
we have with one accord decided to choose representatives
and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So we are sending Judas and Silas
who will also convey this same message by word of mouth:
'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.
If you keep free of these,
you will be doing what is right. Farewell.'"

And so they were sent on their journey.
Upon their arrival in Antioch
they called the assembly together and delivered the letter.
When the people read it, they were delighted with the exhortation.

Gospel (Jn 15:12-17)

Jesus said to his disciples:
"This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one's life for one's friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another."


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: Love is the key for survival.

            We learn many important things from the early Jerusalem Church in her solving of conflicts, causing by the transition from Judaism to Christianity. First, they solved the problems together. Next, they followed the Holy Spirit’s guidance to recognize: what is the fundamental doctrines which must be kept; what can be adapted and dispensed. Then, they were humble and courageously dismissed their habits of thinking to accept the common decision. Lastly, they solved problems with their fraternal love, not as between a master and his slaves or the central leaders and its workers. Because of their wise and proper resolution, the early Church avoided schism and built up unity. This also helped the Good News to expand in the world instead of being confined in Jerusalem and identified as Judaism.

            Today readings highlight the important keys to solve conflicts in the Church or a community. In the first reading, the Church solved her problems according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and Christ’s love. The apostles decided not to put any more burden on the Gentiles’ shoulder save critical things. In the Gospel, Jesus emphasized especially on the commandment of love. His disciples must do all thing out of love as he loves them. They can’t treat others as master and slaves, but as their friends as Christ treated them.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: When the people read it, they were delighted with the exhortation.

1.1/ The ways the Church in Jerusalem solve her problems: They did three important things:

            (1) They chose the representatives of the central Church to explain their messages for the local churches. The Acts reported, “Then the apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers.”

            (2) They sent the official messages: Since rumors and fabricators cause suspicision, separation and fighting in community, the Jerusalem Church recognized these dangers and highlighted them in their letter: “Since we have heard that some of our number (who went out) without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you.”

            (3) They officially declared Paul and Barnabas as the leaders: The Jerusalem Church also recognized the important positions of Paul and Barnabas, not only for the local churches but also for the whole Church: We send our representatives “to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Church should pay respect for local leaders.

1.2/ The content of their message: Based of Peter and James’ opinions from yesterday, the central Church decided: “So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth.”

            (1) The decision isn’t entirely human: "It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden." The Jerusalem Church emphasized on both “the Holy Spirit” and “us.” This shows that the Church isn’t purely as an organization as others in the world, but has a heavenly origin. The Church acted under the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The conclusion wasn’t by individuals but the whole Church after prayer and conversation.

            (2) What the Gentiles must observe:“namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage.” These necessary things which the Church commands both the Jews and the Gentiles to keep them.

2/ Gospel: “This I command you: love one another.”

2.1/ The commandment of love: "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”Jesus commanded many things but this can be said the basic commandment because it covers all other commandments. Love isn’t simple as many think, but has its origin from God. People must have this kind of love before they can satisfy Jesus’ command: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.”

2.2/ The friendship between Jesus and his disciples: The apostles might think their relationship with Jesus as of between a master and his slaves or disciples, because Jesus is God who creates and control all things. He has a right to command and people have a duty to do it. The relationship between a master and his disciples, though a closer relationship, still has a big difference between them because the master can command his disciples to do his will. The apostles could never think they can become Jesus’ friends as he said today: “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” That is the only condition to become Jesus’ friends and his main commandment is to love each other. The sign of friendship is to freely do good for one’s friends.

            (1) The difference between friends and slaves: Jesus emphasized the difference: “I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.” The special character between friends is that they share with each other all things: happiness, suffering, joy and sadness. Jesus revealed all what he sees in the Father to the apostles; shared all joy and sadness with them during his three years of public mission; washed their feet as a slave, and is ready to sacrifice his life for them. Jesus really treated them as his closed friends.

            (2) Jesus chose his apostles for a mission: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.” Jesus emphasized on God’s role in calling and selecting the apostles. He chose them, not they chose him. He chose them when they still had many human weakness and limitation; but he trained, sanctified and sent them out for a mission which is to bring people to God.

            The thing which surprise us most after Jesus’ resurrection is the complete change in the apostles, from the illiterate and fearful to the wise, courage and dare to face the Sandherin, and they couldn’t answer the apostles. In other words, Christ bestows on them all necessary things so they can fulfill their mission.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - When there is a conflict in our family or community, we should follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance to find out the truth and to discard all selfishness and jealousy hidden in us.

            - We must also be humble to accept the truth and to solve problem on the foundation of love, not on the power to command as between a master and his servants.

            - We must have courage to recognize our mistakes and correct them. We should love, encourage and help each other in preaching and witnessing for the gospel.