the unity which overcomes division
"This created dissension and much controversy between them and Paul and Barnabas." —Acts 15:2
There was an extreme conflict in the early Church regarding Gentile Christians. Some believed that the term "Gentile Christians" was an explicit contradiction, for they thought only Jews could be Christians. Others believed that Gentiles could be Christians, but only if they observed the Mosaic law, including circumcision (see Acts 15:1). Still others believed that was not necessary. But what was necessary? This conflict was so intense that some Christians were attacked and thrown into jail for accepting Gentile Christians (see Acts 22:21ff).
Typically, people in a conflict tell everyone about the problem and about how unreasonable or even evil the opposition is. But Paul and Barnabas told everyone about the conversion of the Gentiles (Acts 15:3). The reaction to this good news was "great joy" (Acts 15:3). Usually the reaction to a problem is great "concern" or great indignation. Moreover, Paul and Barnabas could have been incensed that they were going to the center of Judaism to ask Jews to give a ruling on Gentiles. Was this fair?
However, the early Church was holy. Truth and love were more important to Christians than getting their way. The Church had faith that the Lord would work through authority. The Church's unity in the Spirit overcame its divisions rather than divisions destroying or wounding its unity. Lord, give us the truth, love, joy, faith, unity, and holiness of the early Church.
Prayer: Father, give me the faith of St. Joseph. May I live my faith, especially in my work.
Promise: "My Father has been glorified in your bearing much fruit and becoming My disciples." —Jn 15:8
Praise: St. Joseph helped dignify labor by serving Jesus daily through his workmanship.
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our tape on Unity and Gifts on audio AV3A-3 or video V3-A.)
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Giles H. Pater, November 15, 2001
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, November 16, 2001