Readings: Acts 15: 1-2.22-29, Psalm 67:2-3.5.6 and 8, Revelation 21:10-414.22-23, John 14:23-29
Salvation is god’s love and gratuitous gift to all
Among the things that we are often tied to even us believers are our traditions. These shape our mentalities and our perception of life and even our faith to some extent. But the moment one embraces Christian faith, these perceptions are expected to change but unfortunately, we carry them along with us.
They can in a way become and impediment, a stumbling block to our journey of knowing Christ and making him known to others. In todays first reading we hear of a debate that ensued in the community of believers about whether those uncircumcised will also be saved.
This became a contentious issue among believers some of whom were convinced that in order to be saved, one had to be circumcised. (One would ask a question, so salvation was only form men circumcised?). eventually this lack of understanding of the concept of salvation led to the first council in the church, the council of Jerusalem in order to rule out the divisions that were bound to rise. They enter into discussion, dialogue in order to avoid bringing separation into the community of believers. How do we deliberate in our own homes and communities when we don’t hold a common point of understanding with others? Do we call for dialogue or we just dictate and tell them to eat cassava and forget about the bread? Are we ready to sit down on around table to discuss things amicably or we begin to consider those who hold different opinion from us as our enemies? These sorts of question can challenge our thinking and make it better if we reflect and engage ourselves in them. In church history we know how most sects developed because of failure to agree and understand each other to have a common point of view
Ours is a God of unity, not division
Whenever we are faced with lack of understanding among ourselves, we must not seek separation from each other. (Often when couples lack understanding they think divorce is the solution). It is not so. It is reconciliation. Our God is not a God who brings division. He brings unity, a sense of belonging that we are all sons and daughters of God despite our differences.
We shall always hold different perspectives but this must not make us think that we are better off than others. Even in our groups of devotions and prayer, we must eliminate the attitude that since I belong to this group therefore am holier than others or therefore, I will be among the first ones to be saved. Salvation is God’s gratuitous gift to whoever is ready to welcome it, it is given out of pure love, not because we merit it or because we are circumcised or because we belong to a certain group. These groups are meant to make us live better; they are important but our salvation does not depend on them. The gift of salvation has no boundaries as we intend humanly. It has no human obstacles whatsoever because God does not depend on us in order to grant it to us. He only needs our readiness to welcome it by opening our hearts to him no matter our past sins, no matter our unworthy behaviors. That’s why great saints in the church have also had a wretched past, yet God’s grace worked in them and made them the opposite of who they were.
If you love God and keep his commands....
In today’s gospel, Jesus continues to give standing instructions to his disciples as he prepares them for his ascension. It is not a surprise that he emphasizes on the commandment of love. Love changes our lives; love makes us so different. He gave us an example of what it means to love. That love is not actually shaped like the heart as we usually intend, but it is actually shaped in the form of the cross. He also presents to us the consequences of loving God and loving our neighbors. When we love God, God will love us and will make our home in us. Imaging God having his home in you, surely you will not be the same. He has made his home in you, but maybe you don’t realize it, but God’s love is ever dwelling with us. Loving God is also listening to his commandments which are also given out of love in order to guide us to live in love with each other and with God. Love desires what is good for others, not what is evil. Love is ready to endure the pain for the good of others. Love is persistent and courageous. With God making his home in us we can be able to love.
Love is also forgiving. Jesus says let your hearts not be troubled. The biggest thing that brings trouble to us is lack of forgiveness. This word today challenges us to forgive if we truly love. Take time and bring healing to yourself by forgiving others and forgiving yourself as well. Love causes us to rejoice because we have an assurance of God’s presence with us, that even though we do not see him physically, he is with us always, walking with us and guiding our steps. May the Lord through his love and grace help us to overcome our divisions and misunderstandings such that we may exude unity in our lives. Amen