Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter

(Acts 15:7-21; John 15:9-11)

In his encyclical "Ut Unum Sint" Blessed John Paul II expressed the willingness to envision a new form of papal leadership. In a significant outreach to Orthodox and Protestant Christianity the pope asked for suggestions to change his office to accommodate non-Catholic Christians without compromising truth. His offer is reminiscent of the concession that the first followers of Christ are making in the readings from the Acts of the Apostles today.

In the beginning Judaism was as much a part of Christianity as Mother's Day is part of Americanism. God chose the Jews to be His own people, and, as Jesus says in the Gospel of John, "Salvation is from the Jews." But this does not mean that one has to become a Jew to be saved. Peter proclaims what Jesus' disciples know instinctively: salvation does not come from Jewish ritual and the Jewish diet but from the grace of the particular Jew, Jesus Christ.

The great ecumenical question for us is not how much change in the papacy we are willing to accept but how much personal renewal we are willing to make. Some Catholics may harbor prejudices against non-Catholics which surely have to go. Most of us need to emulate the virtues of other kinds of Christians - like the Baptists’ serious study of the word of God or Orthodoxies’ devotional prayer. Finally, all of us must pray more determinedly with Christian brothers and sisters for unity.