Vol: 43, No.30 6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER ( C) May 01 2016  
 
LITURGY AND LIFE

Chapter 15 of the Acts of the Apostles is crucial in many ways regarding the early Church that Luke is describing. Midway through the book of Acts, Luke describes the procedure and outcome of the Jerusalem Council. After the Jerusalem Council, Paul alone dominates the missionary work as described in Acts. The convocation of the Council of Jerusalem became necessary because Christians of Jewish origin began insisting that Gentile Christians should observe the Mosaic Law and should undergo circumcision. The admission of Gentiles into the Church had begun some time earlier with the conversion of Cornelius, the high profile Roman centurion. But the issue started becoming more acute after Paul and Barnabas returned from their first missionary journey.
As this issue persisted and it could not be settled locally, the Church in Antioch decided that this had to be discussed in the presence of the authorities in Jerusalem and so chose Paul and Barnabas as their representatives. Up to this point in Acts Jerusalem has been a focal point, as the mother Church and the doctrinal centre. It was right that appeal was to be made to the mother Church. The mother Church was led by James who took a balanced view on the matter. He was the broadminded leader who, while basically agreeing with Peter about no circumcision and no obligation to observe the Mosaic Law for Gentile Christians, sought to preserve the unity and peace of the Church. The first Christians were Jewish, and their background, culture and sentiments had to be respected. This was the reason why he proposed the dietary and marital regulations for the Gentile Christians who lived among such Jewish Christians. Luke presents James as a Church official who seeks a reasonable compromise in the interest of the Church at large.

 

The Apostolic Council of Jerusalem is the only Council that is recorded in the New Testament. But there have been 21 Ecumenical Councils held in the history of the Church the first being the Council of Nicea held in 325 AD under Pope Silvester I and the last being the Vatican II held under Pope John XIII and Pope Paul VI which was concluded on 8 December 1965.
Just what is an Ecumenical Council? An Ecumenical Council is the gathering of all the bishops of the world as opposed to regional or local gatherings. According to current Church law, only the Pope calls this type of Council, and he alone sets its agenda. Acts of the Council are binding when approved by the Pope and the body of bishops and officially proclaimed by Papal authority. Roman Catholics consider that there have been twenty-one such Councils. However, the only Councils accepted as truly ecumenical by both the Church of the East and that of the West are the first seven. The first four Councils (Nicea [325], Constantinople I [381], Ephesus [431], and Chalcedon [451]) are recognized as normative for all Churches that confess the Nicean and Apostles’ Creeds, and the decrees of those four Councils form the basis for ecumenical dialogues. Councils have usually been called to confront heresies or to foster needed reform in the Church. Vatican II was the only Council in the Church’s history that did not issue any condemnations of heresies or errors. It was the only Council that addressed some of its documents to those outside the Church (“to persons of good will”), and it was the only Council that directly spoke on the issue of ecumenism, reconciliation and dialogue not only among Christians but among all the world’s religious traditions.

– AK
mAY 2016 READINGS OF THE WEEK Psalter Week 2
02 Mon (w) St Athanasius, Acts 16:11-15/ Ps 149:1-6, 9/ Jn 15:26–16:4
03 Tue (R) STS PHILIP & JAMES, Feast, 1 Cor 15:1-8/ Ps 19:2-5/ Jn 14:6-14
04 Wed (w) Acts 17:15, 22–18:1/ Ps 148:1-2, 11-14/ Jn 16:12-15
05 Thu (w) Acts 18:1-8/ Ps 98:1-4/ Jn 16:16-20
06 Fri (w) Acts 18:9-18/ Ps 47:2-7/ Jn 16:20-23
07 Sat (W) Acts 18:23-28/ Ps 47:2-3, 8-10/ Jn 16:23-28
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