Memory of the Church

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.
.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 15,22-29

Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose delegates from among themselves to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas, known as Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men in the brotherhood, and gave them this letter to take with them: 'The apostles and elders, your brothers, send greetings to the brothers of gentile birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We hear that some people coming from here, but acting without any authority from ourselves, have disturbed you with their demands and have unsettled your minds; and so we have decided unanimously to elect delegates and to send them to you with our well-beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have committed their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly we are sending you Judas and Silas, who will confirm by word of mouth what we have written. It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to impose on you any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from illicit marriages. Avoid these, and you will do what is right. Farewell.'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

At the end of the first general assembly in Jerusalem, held in the presence of Paul and Barnabas, all who were present agreed on what James said. They wrote the first “council decree” which was then brought to the community in Antioch where the question had been the most bitterly divisive. We could say that this council acknowledged that Christianity and Judaism were different. Until then, the Christian community had been more of a group within Judaism than a new community. The assembly of Jerusalem - guided by the Spirit - clarified that salvation came from the Gospel and not from ritual practices. This is why the letter said: “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden.” From then on the distinction was clearer, though a very close and unavoidable relationship between the two religions would never be erased. We could even say that a deep and vital relationship with Judaism is very much a part of Christian identity. Not only are there common roots between the two religions, but in a certain way they also share a common expectation. The Jews are still waiting for the Messiah; Christians know that the Messiah has already come and yet, at the same time, we await his second coming at the end of time. In this expectation we are both united. Christians know that Jesus started the new times of the kingdom of God; with his death and resurrection he defeated death and opened the new kingdom. This newness is certainly a gift, but also a responsibility because everyone needs to work to change the world through the leavening of the Gospel. Among the emerging responsibilities very clearly now there is also that of fighting any sign of anti-Semitism. Unfortunately in the past it has not been always been like that. It is good to keep alive dialogue and fraternal encounter with the Jews to whom we are connected in a special and unbreakable way.