Friday, September 12, 2008

Acts 15:12-21

Today’s reading reminds me of the inclusiveness of Christianity. These verses are the story of The Council at Jerusalem. Earlier readings told that a big question at that time in the life of the Church was whether or not Gentiles must adhere to Jewish customs to become Christian. So, the question was taken to James, the leader of the largest church at the time, which was Jerusalem. James listened to Paul and Barnabas describe the various arguments. But, the words James relies on, in part (which are from the Book of Amos, from the Septuagint, according to my study bible) were “…that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord…”. From those words, James decided that “we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” Well, he may have been a little bit more inclusive than that, but he decided, nonetheless, that Gentiles were okay.

The only way this can be read, in my view, is total reconciliation with all of humanity. Not just a few lucky folks, but everyone.

So, if God intends for all of humanity to seek His face, who are we to turn anyone away? We are all taught by society various forms of discrimination. We may not think of our actions and thoughts as discriminatory, but there are likely certain groups of people we would just as soon not hang out with. It’s natural to want to be part of one’s own herd, so to speak.

We all have a calling to find these flaws in our make-up and to actively seek out those who are persecuted and discriminated against. We are to share God’s love with them so that they, too, can be part of the miracle.

Isn’t this, after all, what St. Matthews intends as we go on our mission trips? These trips are perfect opportunities to go beyond our safety zones and to test those areas of ourselves that may be unknowingly dividing the world into them and us. But, even without going on a trip, invite someone new to church. Or, in the same way, go out of your way to be friendly to someone new at church. Either way, you are living the Gospel by making it easier for someone else to seek His face.

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