The Easter season is sure passing quickly. In a few weeks we will be celebrating Pentecost, the end of Easter time. On this sixth Sunday of Easter, we hear about the formation of the early Church community. Basically, the elders were attempting to sort out what was essential to believe and to do in order to qualify as a Christian.
In short, the consensus was that converts to Christianity did not have to become Jewish in order to become Christian. Rather, all they needed to do was to believe in the Gospel, be baptized, abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, abstain from blood and strangled animals, and to avoid unlawful marriage (marriage to a pagan or unbeliever). But above all, early Christians were called to love one another as Christ had loved them.
Dietary prescriptions aside, the requirements are not much different in 2013: to be considered a Christian one must believe in the Gospel, be baptized, avoid idolatry, and avoid unlawful marriage. As Catholic Christians we also have the benefit of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Code of Canon Law to assist us with the nuances of what faithful Christianity should be.
If we look to the essence of the call to holiness, it is love. Love means being one with Jesus Christ. We cannot be one with Christ if our lives are encumbered with worldly possessions, ideas, or attitudes. We cannot be one with each other if we view one another as objects rather than fellow travelers on the journey to God’s Kingdom. We cannot be one with the Church if we decide that our way or our opinion is better than the teachings of the Church as found in Scripture and Tradition.
The first reading from Acts reminds us that the Church is comprised of human beings who work in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit guides the decision-making process. That was true in first century Palestine; it is true today.
As we continue to grow as Catholic Christians, may our prayer be that of Jesus: “that all may be one” as the Father and Jesus are one. As we deepen our faith, may we become closer to one another and to the Triune God. But above all, may each one of us grow more in love with Christ and with each other as we move forward on the journey to our eternal home.