"It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and us…” With these words, the Church in Jerusalem sent the result of the first Council of the Church back to the faithful in Antioch. There is a message for us that is crucial for our country today: we cannot stay divided; we need to dialog and come to a consensus so we can move forward together.
The first Christians were Jews and they continued following the Mosaic law, including circumcision and dietary restrictions. As Paul moved through the Gentile world and made converts, tension arose between the Jewish Christians in these areas and the Gentile converts.
How was it resolved? Paul and other delegates went to Jerusalem, the center of the Church and the place where the Church was most Jewish. They met with Peter and the other leaders; each side listened to the other; all of them invoked the Holy Spirit and they came to a consensus. They sent Jewish representatives back with Paul, so that it would be clear to the Jewish Christians in the outlying areas that it truly was a decision accepted by the Church in Jerusalem.
What a wonderful example of how we can come to decisions that benefit the whole community, promoting unity and peace. In addition to looking at what they did, it is important to look at what they did NOT do: they did not call each other names or put each other down, they did not close their minds to other ideas, and they did not insist on their own way. They listened to each other and allowed the Spirit to speak to and through them.
There is no doubt we need this kind of dialog and consensus building in our country. The divisions we are experiencing harm everyone, because we are not moving forward for the common good. Ultimately, no one benefits.
This kind of communication is also needed in our Church, our workplaces, and our families. No one has all the answers, no one has the absolute truth, and no one can find their way alone. We need the Holy Spirit, as did the first disciples in the Council of Jerusalem, but most often the Spirit speaks through other people. When we can
listen to each other, discern what is best for the whole, and move forward, the Spirit is able to work through us.
How am I at listening and moving forward toward consensus? Do I allow the Holy Spirit to speak to me through others? How do I need to improve? Come, Holy Spirit, make us a listening people, who cooperate to do Your will. Amen.
Church sign of the week:
Before you speak, THINK.
Is it True?
Is it Helpful?
Is it Inspiring?
Is it Necessary?
Is it Kind?