Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Advocate and the Church

Sixth Sunday of Easter – Year C

Making decisions can be very difficult especially when everyone seems to have their own opinion. You and I know that each of us always think that our own opinion is always the most important of all. That is the reason why we have disagreements which may even lead to conflict and later to disunity.

That was also the problem of the early Christians. Some of the early Christians believed that they should still follow the Jewish customs, for example circumcision and prohibitions towards certain foods. For them, Jesus was a Jew and had also followed Jewish ways and rituals. But there was also another group of Christians who were able to recognize the newness brought about by Jesus. Jesus was not merely another Jewish teacher who wanted to reform his religion, but he was the Son of God who came to announce the good news of the kingdom of God. And within this kingdom, customs and rituals which separated one race from the other could no longer be barriers to Christian brotherhood.

And so a problem was presented to the Council of Jerusalem, the assembly of Christian leaders, who came together to decide on this critical matter – whether non-Jewish (Gentiles) converts to Christianity should adopt the practices of the Jews. After long discussion a decision was made – the Gentile converts should “not be saddled with any burden beyond certain essentials.”

Throughout the centuries, the Church has also experienced many crisis that threatened to break its very foundation and unity. In the early centuries, many Church leaders were divided as to whether Jesus was God; and if he was God, was he equal to God the Father. In later centuries, there were also disagreement about many church teachings and practices. In the 15th and 16th century, the Church also faced the crisis of the Reformation where many Protestants broke away from the Catholic Church. In the last century, faced with the rapid development of society and new problems emerging there from, the Church’s bishops came together in Rome to decide on the future of the Church – and so we had the famous Second Vatican Council which has affected the lives of everyone.

Throughout all these centuries, throughout all these years of crisis and trials, the Church has continued to survive and grow, only because of the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the gift of the Father and the gift of Jesus to the Church and to each of us who are believers. He is sent to as to “teach you everything and remind you of all (Jesus) have said to you.” His presence guarantees that we will experience peace in our decisions even in the midst of chaos and problems. His guidance ensures that in spite of all our personal opinions and ways of thinking, we can still come to a common decision that reflects the will of God. In other words, he is the guarantee of unity within the Church. Without the Holy Spirit, the Church and unity would not be possible.

We must therefore always remember that our decisions must always be made with reference to the Church and the community as a whole. It is that same Spirit which will inspire each of us. There is always the temptation to think that my opinion is the best and the most important of all. But what matters most is not this or that opinion or even the opinion of the majority, but it is the will of God that we must always search for with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Let us continue to treasure the gift of the Holy Spirit and give thanks to God because the Holy Spirit is the sure hope and promise that God has not and will never abandon us.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Terms of Use: As additional measure for security, please sign in before you leave your comments.

Please note that foul language will not be tolerated. Comments that include profanity, personal attacks, and antisocial behaviour such as "spamming" and "trolling" will be removed. Violators run the risk of being blocked permanently. You are fully responsible for the content you post. Please be responsible and stay on topic.