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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 15,1-6

Then some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, 'Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.' This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was decided that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the question with the apostles and elders. The members of the church saw them off, and as they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria they told how the gentiles had been converted, and this news was received with the greatest satisfaction by all the brothers. When they arrived in Jerusalem they were welcomed by the church and by the apostles and elders, and gave an account of all that God had done through them. But certain members of the Pharisees' party who had become believers objected, insisting that gentiles should be circumcised and instructed to keep the Law of Moses. The apostles and elders met to look into the matter,


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Chapter fifteen describes one of the most important moments in the entire book of the Acts of the Apostles, that is, the solution to the very serious question regarding the relationship between Judaism and Christianity that was troubling the Christian community. This question had been weighing on the early community for some time, but now it had reached a moment of decision that would define Christianity’s turn towards universality, that is, towards the ends of the earth. The question revolved around this problem: did the Gentiles who converted to the Gospel have to submit themselves to Jewish law or not? Paul and Barnabas, who had created communities that were made up primarily of Gentiles, did not require those who had converted to Christianity to be circumcised. This practice clearly questioned the relationship between the communities that were born from preaching to Gentiles and those who came out of Judaism. It was a very difficult passage for the emerging Christian community. It brought the risk of a bitter division within the growing Christian community. It became necessary to call an assembly of all the leaders to be held in Jerusalem. It was the first Council in the history of the Church. But it is more than a judicial example: it serves as an example of a way of living out our faith, that is, in a fraternal assembly that gathers to reflect on and discuss common issues. In this sense it remains an example for the life of the Christian communities of every age. Loving communion and fraternal dialogue always defeat the self-promotion of individuals who, left to themselves, break apart and divide. Instead, the difficulties that inevitably arise along the way are dissolved and the one body of Christ is built up in unity.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets