“Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and send them to you …”
It sounds like a small group of believers decided on their own, to go speak to the Gentiles without the Apostles’ knowledge or consent. They took it upon themselves to decide the right thing to do for all of the early Christians, and they completely disregarded the Apostles’ leadership and authority given to them by Jesus Christ.
Have you ever heard the expression, “one bad apple can spoil the whole barrel”? In this case, one small group decided for themselves, what was right for the rest of the church. But, it wasn’t their decision to make. Jesus Christ, his rightfully appointed representatives, and the Holy Spirit guide the church. It can also be the case, that we sometimes make decisions and act on things that are what we think is best, but it may not be God’s will.
How do we know the difference between our own self will, and when the Holy Spirit is genuinely guiding our decisions? A major clue to determining whether it is the Holy Spirit leading us, or our own self will is the fruit of the decision. Does our decision cause division, disunity and discord? These are sometimes signs that it is our own self will at work.
If however, our decision results in unity and peace, then this is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit always seeks to unify the church, not divide it. Did you notice that Saint Paul wrote, it was the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us? Saint Paul didn’t make that decision alone, but only after much prayer and discussing it with the other Apostles too. He didn’t jump up and act, without giving it a lot of prayer and consulting the rest of the group first.
Also, if you think about it, the Holy Spirit is the unifying third person in the Trinity. God and Jesus love each other and the Holy Spirit is the love they share for one another. The Holy Spirit doesn’t ever act independently without their knowledge or consent. He is incapable of doing so because He is united so closely with God the Father and Jesus Christ, that their will, is also His will.
Maybe that is another reason Jesus commanded us to love one another. He wants us to have the same bond of love during our earthly lives, that he has with His Father and the Holy Spirit. People who love each other deeply, or have a close friendship, do not want to hurt one another. It happens sometimes because of our human frailties, but we usually realize that whatever the disagreement was, it wasn’t worth losing the one we love over it.
We should work to preserve the bond of love in our relationships, because anything else that exists in our life, (other than our faith in God), is not as important as the love that we have for one another. Time, money, work, effort or possessions is not worth losing someone we love over. This is truly worth stopping to think about, because life is so short and it will be over before you know it. Our love for God and for one another will be the only thing left when we die. Everything else is just temporary. Nothing else in life has any lasting value – only love.
Jesus told us in today’s gospel, “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.”
Is LOVE really the most important thing in your life?
My supervisor at the pastoral center in our archdiocese told me something recently, that made a lot of sense. He said that, “if you want to know what people really care about the most in their lives, then look at how they spend their free time.”
That is a good thought to think about today. What are you spending your free time on?
Daily Mass Readings:
Acts 15: 22-31 / Psalm 57: 8-10, 12 / John 15: 12-17