Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 19, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Acts allows us to sit in on an early Church “convention”. The dynamics are fascinating, as well as amazingly familiar.

The community is a-bustle with concerns. Paul and Barnabas have been out gathering Gentile converts to the faith. The Jewish Christian community back in Jerusalem feels that these new converts should be required to submit to circumcision as a sign of their conversion. Peter offers an intense, lucid, yet gentle argument to convince the Jerusalem community that this is not necessary.

God, who knows the heart,
bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit
just as he did us.
He made no distinction between us and them,
for by faith he purified their hearts.
Why, then, are you now putting God to the test
by placing on the shoulders of the disciples
a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?

Acts 15:8-10

James, who appears to have influence in the Jerusalem Church, backs Peter up by referring to the prophet Amos who promised the rebuilding of the faith community:

After this I shall return
                        and rebuild the fallen hut of David;
            from its ruins I shall rebuild it
                        and raise it up again,
            so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord,
                        even all the Gentiles on whom my name is invoked.
            Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things,
                        known from of old.

What a perfect reference to help convince the Jewish community that to be a Christian one did not have to also be a Jew nor follow the Old Law.

This passage helps us to be aware of our openness to new inspiration from the Holy Spirit not only in the Church but in our personal lives. God is the great “heart-reader” and knows when we are ready for growth and deepening. “Protecting” our faith with rituals and exercises that have lost meaning can be a way to avoid opening ourselves to conversion and spiritual transformation. The Holy Spirit invites us beyond such false securities:

And God, who knows the heart,
bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit
just as he did us.

Acts 15:8

In our Gospel, Jesus reminds us of all that we need to make our faith — and our joy — complete:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that
my joy might be in you and
your joy might be complete.”

Poetry: Quench Your Heart’s Thirst – Hafiz

I know the way you can get
When you have not had a drink of Love:

Your face hardens,
Your sweet muscles cramp.
Children become concerned
About a strange look that appears in your eyes
Which even begins to worry your own mirror
And nose.

Squirrels and birds sense your sadness
And call an important conference in a tall tree.
They decide which secret code to chant
To help your mind and soul.

Even angels fear that brand of madness
That arrays itself against the world
And throws sharp stones and spears into
The innocent
And into one’s self.

O I know the way you can get
If you have not been drinking Love:

You might rip apart
Every sentence your friends and teachers say,
Looking for hidden clauses.

You might weigh every word on a scale
Like a dead fish.

You might pull out a ruler to measure
From every angle in your darkness
The beautiful dimensions of a heart you once
Trusted.

I know the way you can get
If you have not had a drink from Love’s
Hands.

That is why all the Great Ones speak of
The vital need
To keep remembering God,
So you will come to know and see Him
As being so Playful
And Wanting,
Just Wanting to help.

That is why Hafiz says:
Bring your cup near me.
For all I care about
Is quenching your thirst for freedom!

All a Sane man can ever care about
Is giving Love!”


Music: CHANGE MY HEART, O GOD

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