Saturday 14 February 2015

Thursday of the 5th Week of Easter

Meetings and discussions can sometimes turn out to be quite a frustrating activity. This is especially so when people begin to talk and argue over a topic which is essentially not a big deal. At times, such meetings and discussions could turn out to be quite a rowdy affair, especially when people begin to lose their cool and start behaving like only their opinion or point of view matters. In the midst of all these monkeying around, with some clashes of the gong and thundering voices here and there, we need someone to snap us out of our "temporary insanity" and get us back on our true purpose. That someone is what we call a moderator.

In today's reading, we have Peter who ended up being the moderator. The apostles and elders had been discussing about an issue which so incensed and consumed them (they were Jews and it was part of their upbringing). What was the issue all about? It was about whether the gentile Christians should be circumcised as part of the "salvation package," so to speak. Peter finally had had enough and he told all present: "In fact God, who can read everyone’s heart, showed his approval of them by giving the Holy Spirit to them just as he had to us. God made no distinction between them and us, since he purified their hearts by faith. It would only provoke God’s anger now, surely, if you imposed on the disciples the very burden that neither we nor our ancestors were strong enough to support? Remember, we believe that we are saved in the same way as they are: through the grace of the Lord Jesus." After Peter had said this, there was silence. You could almost hear a pin drop (if there was one at that time). It was clear to all present that they had been arguing about something which was really not big deal.

Then, to further strengthen Peter's argument, James added: "I rule, then, that instead of making things more difficult for pagans who turn to God, we send them a letter telling them merely to abstain from anything polluted by idols, from fornication, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For Moses has always had his preachers in every town, and is read aloud in the synagogues every sabbath." Wonderful! Case closed.

Just like the apostles and elders, we too sometimes end up arguing over the smallest matters concerning our faith, and we forget the bigger picture and the more important issues that we should be addressing instead. Let us learn from this dramatic episode and open our eyes, ears and hearts, so that we could learn to love and serve others better, while giving glory to God.

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