In today’s first reading from Acts 15, we see that the early Church was hierarchical. There was a dispute about whether the Gentiles needed to be circumcised and follow the Mosaic laws in order to be saved. Paul and Barnabas knew that this was not a matter that could be settled on a local level. This involved the teaching of the Church. So they went to Jerusalem to consult with the Apostles. The Pope (Peter) and the bishops (the Apostles) rendered their decision. And the whole of Christianity was bound by this teaching. That same teaching body still exists today in the Magisterium.
In the Gospel reading from John 15, Jesus says, “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” Joy is a funny thing. It can be difficult to define. It is not the same as happiness, though they are certainly similar. But happiness can be fleeting and superficial. I think that joy goes much deeper than happiness.
We have to think of joy in terms of Jesus. What was Jesus’ joy? What gave Him joy? I believe that the answer to that lies in His union with the Father. Jesus’ joy came from completely and totally surrendering to the Father’s will. The Father’s will was that He give up His life to save humanity from sin and death. Jesus’ mission was to give up His life for others. This is the source of His joy. And only when we live a life of service to others will we experience this joy. Oh, we may find fleeting happiness in selfish pursuits. But true joy can only come through being of service to others.
Father, help us to imitate Jesus in a life of service, that we might share in His joy, that our joy might be complete. Amen.
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