Sixth Sunday of Easter
Proclaim! (from Isaiah 48:20) Celebrate! (from the Collect) This is how the Sixth Sunday of Easter begins. We are still basking in the rays of the Risen Lord. However, this is the last week before he leaves us for the Father. But he will not leave us orphans; he will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit.
In our first reading from Acts, the early Christians are still figuring out what it means to follow and believe in Christ. Some Jewish teachers were upsetting the Gentile believers: “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1b) These teachers went out without a mandate, without the approval of the apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem. So, they went to them for a word on the matter. Including Gentiles was something new. Are they to become Jews to be saved? With one accord, they decided the matter. But it was not only them; it was the Holy Spirit, too. The Church and its leaders are guided by the Holy Spirit. This is a statement of our faith. The Holy Spirit builds, animates, and sanctifies the Church. (see CCC 747) The apostles and presbyters make a wise choice: they do not want to burden the Gentiles with the Mosaic Law, with its many commandments and legal claims. Just a couple of rules about food and marriage.
The apostles’ decision regarding Gentiles in the church reminds me of St. Benedict’s decision regarding the kind of life his monks would live in the monastery: “…nothing harsh, nothing burdensome.” (RB Prol. 46) Just “keep this little rule,” he says, and that will be enough. (cf. RB 73.8)
We all need to keep a little rule, to keep us upright and focused and on the straight and narrow. Many of us make rules for ourselves naturally: “No, I’m not going to eat another piece of cake.” “I need to go to bed by 9:30 p.m.” “I would like to pray every day.” Rules are like goals. They form our habits and our lives. They make us feel better and proud of ourselves. They help us to live healthy and balanced lives and put us in right relationship with God.
What little rule do I need to make for myself, to be healthy and to feel closer to God?
Reflection by Br. Luke Kral, OSB