Sunday, May 5, 2013

An Item From Today's Readings

Specifically, the First Reading from Acts 15:

Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.” Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question.

The apostles and elders, in agreement with the whole church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers. This is the letter delivered by them:

The apostles and the elders, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings. 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 to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth:

First, why is the Council of Jerusalem not mentioned here? Is it included in the Readings on some other day? Kind of an important thing to leave out, I think.

Second, notice what the message says that set apart the Judaizers from the legitimate missionaries. It's the apostolic mandate. The Judaizers were not sent forth by the authority of the Apostles. This dovetails well with St. Paul's comment in Romans:

How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they be sent, as it is written: How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, of them that bring glad tidings of good things!

Romans 10:14-15

It's not standard operating procedure for the Holy Spirit to select a random guy who then consecrates himself as The Most Reverend Prophet, Bishop J. Randall WooHoo of the First Mt. Nebo United Nazarene Church of the Living God in Christ.

People are sent forth by ones in authority. They receive that authority by the laying on of hands from one of those with authority (1 Timothy 4:14). Those latter having received it from someone else, eventually leading back to Our Blessed Lord.

This is a concept foreign to many Protestants, of course, in that the never-ending multiplication of sects is often spurred by the random individual taking it upon himself to act as God's messenger without the aforementioned mandate.

Catholics have a serious problem with this as well. This is often seen in the various parish committees wherein laity take it upon themselves to play make-believe with the Church's liturgy and doctrines. Being assigned to a position of "lay leadership" suddenly makes one an authority above the Church. This was a huge problem where my wife attended RCIA, where the liturgy was changed like a suit of cheap clothes and the whole catechetics/RCIA program was run by heretics.

Nothing new under the sun, though. If the Apostles had to deal with it, makes sense that we would too.

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