Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
May 5th, 2010

George Butterfield

School of Law Library
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Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Easter
[287] Acts 15:1-6
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5
John 15:1-8

The first reading is a reminder of how much has changed since the beginning of the Church. Today, who would think that a person must become a Jewish convert before becoming a Christian? Yet that is what a number of Jewish Christians believed and that is what they taught to the Gentile converts. At first there was a question as to whether or not Gentiles could be saved under any circumstances. That issue was settled when God called Peter to visit Cornelius. So now the only issue was, How are they saved? Is it through faith in Jesus Christ and following his teachings? Or is it through faith in Jesus, following his teachings, circumcision, and keeping the Mosaic law? Today this teaching would not likely create dissension and debate but probably just cause the hearers to wonder what planet the person had been living on. In the first century it was a real issue and required a trip to Jerusalem to settle the matter. This first reading is only an introduction to what has come to be known as the Jerusalem Council which wrestled with this question. In the meantime, the text emphasizes that, even in the midst of this controversy, there was great rejoicing that the Gentiles were coming to believe in Jesus and embrace this way of life.

The responsorial psalm calls the worshiper to go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. The tribes go up to Jerusalem to give thanks to the name of the Lord. The psalmist rejoices simply because someone said, “Let’s go up to the house of the Lord.” What wonder fills his heart! Our feet are within your gates, O Jerusalem! I could never really understand this until Saturday, April 10, 2010. I am a permanently professed domestic member of the Brothers & Sisters of Charity. Our motherhouse, the Little Portion Monastery, is located outside of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. We have domestic members who live around the world. Two years ago Charity Chapel, the common center, library, dining areas, everything but the homes of the monastic members, burned to the ground. It was in Charity Chapel that I experienced my first Mass. It was there I became a Novice and then made my Temporary and Permanent professions. It was there that I was always greeted with “Welcome home, brother.” I rejoiced when I heard them say, “Let us go to the Little Portion Monastery.” Then it was all gone. Yet, rising from the ashes, Charity Chapel was rebuilt and finally dedicated by Bishop Anthony of Little Rock on April 10th. Only then could I understand the joy of simply having my feet within that church. “Our feet are within your gates, O Jerusalem.” What wonder! What awe! Holy ground!

In the Gospel Jesus tells how we become his disciples: we remain in him even as his words remain in us. When Jesus’ word remains in our heart, then we bear fruit. If we do not bear fruit, we are removed from the vine, from Jesus. If we do bear fruit, the Father prunes us so that we bear even more. Pruning hurts but the alternative is to be cast into the fire. Outside of Jesus, we can do nothing for Jesus is the true vine. Abiding in Jesus we can ask for anything and it will be done for us. Hold on to Jesus, brothers and sisters, even as he holds on to us. If we do this, the Father will be glorified, we will bear much fruit and, by his grace, become his disciples.

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