Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday in the 5th Week of Easter
I Have Told You Everything…

Readings: Acts 15:22-31; Psalm 57:8-9, 10 and 12; John 15:12-17

There is no denying the fact that, both as individuals and as a community, committed Christians are faced with a dazzling array of choices to make. Often these are difficult decisions without any clear-cut answers. It’s also often the case that whatever option one chooses it is impossible to please everyone. As is the case in the first reading today, although the story has a happy ending, we may yet wonder at the feelings of those, especially of the Pharisees’ party, who had been advocating circumcision for all.

What to do? Clearly, at least two extremes need to be avoided. On the one hand, when faced with a variety of differing opinions and options, we might be tempted to throw up our hands in despair and refuse to decide. This temptation may come in the subtle form of handing over the decision to experts of one sort or another. Let them decide. What do we know? Yet Jesus words to us today are shocking enough to stop us in our tracks. I have made known to you everything I have learned from my Father… Everything! However complex a situation or a decision might be, even if it does require consultation with experts, do we dare to believe that, in Christ, we have the capacity to make a good decision?

On the other hand, we must also resist the temptation simply to refuse to listen to anyone, especially those whose views might be considerably different from ours. Although it’s obviously faster and easier to decide in this way, don’t we run the risk of missing out on what God might be saying to us through these others? Again, Jesus’ words in the gospel should give us pause. I call you friends… If we were to take this seriously, can we afford to ignore what Christ might be saying to us through one of his other friends?

Clearly, it’s not easy to steer a middle course between these two extremes. And yet, this is exactly what we see the early Christians doing in the first reading. Yesterday we observed how their decision-making process was guided by Christ’s commandment of love. Today we see the fruit of this decision. The community most directly affected by the decision experiences a significant God-ward movement. Where, at first, its members were disturbed and unsettled, now they are delighted with the encouragement that is offered them. In heeding Christ’s command to love one another by courageously deciding on the difficult issue of circumcision the early church fulfills its commission and bears fruit that continues to last even down to our day.

What are we, in our turn, being called to decide in love today?

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