Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
(Acts 15:1-6; John 15:1-8)
An orthodox Jewish woman writes of her ordeal to keep her head covered at all times. According to Jewish law married women must never show their hair in public. It was a bit difficult until the woman started to wearing wigs. Then she had the best groomed hair of all without infringing the law a bit. Her trial gives us a sense of the dilemma facing the Jesus movement in today’s reading from Acts.
Surprisingly the text describes Pharisee’s who believe in Jesus. With reason they say that to be Jesus’ disciples, people have to keep the Jewish law. After all, Jesus always obeyed the law and taught his followers to do likewise. Nevertheless, expecting Gentiles to eat kosher, as Paul fully realizes, will severely hamper the outreach of the gospel. The issue begs for wisdom as everyone realizes when the matter is taken to Jerusalem.
Many people today leave the Church because of what they perceive as unreasonable rules. It seems rigorist to them that one cannot remarry after entering a frivolous marriage in their youth or that they commit a mortal sin when they use artificial contraception to prevent a pregnancy that would threaten a woman’s life. We should realize that such positions are not arbitrary regulations but truths born of study and prayer. We need also to pray for those who depart from our ranks for these reasons – that they sincerely search for God’s will and do not balk at every sacrifice God demands of them.