Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter
(Acts 15:22-31; John 15:12-17)
Today’s first reading may be troubling for those who have studied the First Letter to the Corinthians. The reading tells how the apostles in Jerusalem write to the church in Antioch that converts must refrain from eating different kinds of meat. But Paul writes the Corinthians that it does not matter what a Christian eats (I Cor. 8:8). Is Paul dictating his own dietary laws for his converts?
The latter would be a hasty assumption. The decision of the so-called “Council of Jerusalem” was made for the church in Antioch where many if not the majority of Christians were of Jewish origin. Its principal message, which is very liberating, frees non-Jews from the need of circumcision. Even Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians that if anyone is scandalized by eating meat sacrificed to idols, that fellow Christians should not do it (I Cor. 8:12). Their motive should always be love. This is very important. As Jesus commands in the gospel, Christians are to love one another. Love certainly implies that one’s actions do not give scandal.
We live at a time of much disagreement in the Church. Some people want to retain old customs like taking Communion on the tongue. Others would prefer taking Communion in the hand and other innovations. Of course, we look to Church leadership to determine the legitimacy of a new practice. But what is even more important than that is extending our love to others. We must look for ways to reconcile or at least tolerate differences in the love of Christ.