against all odds
"The whole assembly fell silent." —Acts 15:12
A serious dispute broke out in the church at Antioch about the need for Gentile converts to be circumcised as a prerequisite for salvation. Paul and Barnabas said 'No.' Some other Jewish Christians said 'Yes.' "Finally it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some others should go up to see the apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem about this question" (Acts 15:2).
Talk about a stacked deck! The "apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem" were mainly circumcised Jewish men. Moreover, Jerusalem was the center of the Jewish faith. Seemingly, the odds of getting a decision against circumcision in Jerusalem would rival the odds of outlawing St. Patrick's Day in Dublin, Ireland!
Paul and Barnabas showed tremendous submission to the authority of the Church by leaving their Gentile Christian stronghold in Antioch to present their case in circumcised Jerusalem. They also displayed great faith in God's ability to act through the leaders of the Church, and trusted their leaders to follow the Holy Spirit. Likewise, the apostles and presbyters acted with true humility and docility by listening to the Lord and not presuming they knew God's will all along. All of them submitted themselves to the authority of Peter, the first Pope. At Peter's words, "the whole assembly fell silent" (Acts 15:12).
May all Catholics today imitate the early Church in her humility, order, submission, and trust in God's will.
Prayer: Father, may we obey our leaders, submit to them, and "act that they may fulfill their task with joy, not with sorrow" (Heb 13:17).
Promise: "As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you." —Jn 15:9
Praise: Rick teaches others to submit to difficult Church teachings even when their understanding of such things is not complete.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 9, 2009
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