Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter
(Acts 15:7-21; John 15: 9-11)
What if the Catholic Church, in order to foster unity with Protestant communities of faith, relaxed the requirement of attending Sunday Eucharist? Surely many would oppose the change as an aberration to a Catholic custom that has been practiced almost since the beginning. Others would say that there is no Scriptural mandate to assist in the Sunday Eucharist and therefore the Church precept is alterable. This question is similar to what the primitive Church confronts in today’s first reading from the Book of Acts.
It is hard to understate the importance of this meeting of the primitive Church. The leaders are to decide the direction of the Church in the future. Will it continue to be primarily a movement within Judaism, or will it allow Gentiles to be Gentiles while finding their salvation in the Lord Jesus? The decision seems to boil down to what James will say. Peter has already been convinced of the need to let Gentiles eat pork. Paul and Barnabas, of course, have no objections to the idea. Opposed to the change are the so-called “Judaizers” who see Christianity as a renewal of Israel with its necessity of keeping the Law. James’ speaking in favor of the change with only a few restrictions clinches the argument.
It probably is not a good idea to abandon the Sunday Eucharist obligation. But Catholics should be open to similar non-essential changes in order to accommodate Christian unity. We should not emphasize our differences from others. Rather we should seek commonalities so that Christ may be one without diluting all that he is and all that he tells us.