So Acts Ch 15 is a PRETTY CRITICAL CHAPTER
Now, obviously, A LOT of things are critical
But what is going on here?
This is one of the things that St. Paul is going to be writing about
He wrote about it to the Romans
He wrote about it to the Ephesians
He writes about it to the Galatians
He writes about it to the Corinthians, a little bit
This is what is called the JUDAIZERS
So what were the JUDAIZERS?
They were Jews who had become Christian and they held on to the idea that if Gentiles are going to become Christian that’s fine
If they were going to be brought into the New Covenant, that’s great
They FIRST have to be brought into the OLD COVENANT in order to be brought into the NEW COVENANT
Think about this…
All the first Christians came from the Old Covenant
They were part of the People of God that God established his Covenant with in the Old Testament
So THE way, if you are a man, you were brought into the Old Covenant was through CIRCUMCISION (Do you remember when we first learned this? Go back and read Day 8: The Surrender of Abraham in The Bible in a Year Study Guide for a refresher 😁)
So the Judaizers thought, “Well that makes sense. If we are going to have Gentiles come into this new family, in the New Covenant, then they are brought in first like we were, circumcised then baptized. That’s the stages. That’s how we did it. That’s how they should do it.”
And the big question was....
Do those Gentile converts have to FIRST BE CIRCUMCISED before they are baptized?
The Apostles did not know
Jesus did not say anything about this
There is nothing about this in the Old Testament
If there was ANYTHING in the Old Testament it says you gotta be circumcised
So they don’t have an answer
There is not an answer that God said in his Word
There is not an answer that God said through the Person of Jesus
So what do you do?
It says, “There arose no little dissension among them.”
Acts 15:7, “After there had been much debate…”
They argued about this
There were fights, we’ll say
In Fr. Mike’s family, they were called “discussions” (Interesting...in MY family, they were called “aggressive negotiations” and involved lightsabers 😉)
There were debates and fights here
“We NEED to get them circumcised!”
“We DON’T NEED to get them circumcised!”
WHO determines that?
This is the BIG QUESTION
This is THE reason why we need the Church
Not just an invisible, spiritual Church
This is the reason why we need the AUTHORITY of the Church
Think about this…
In this section of Acts Ch 15 we have The Council of Jerusalem, the FIRST Church council
The next Church council was The Council of Nicaea
We also have The Council of Ephesus
We also have The Council of Constantinople
We also have The Second Vatican Council
Those Church councils looked EXACTLY like Acts Ch 15
The Apostles AKA the Bishops, their successors and The Pope AKA the Successor of St. Peter come together
They argue about this
They fight about this
(Fr. Mike is not sure if this is accurate but…)
There are legends that there was a guy named Arias in 325 AD
The heresy of Arianism had taken over the world
ARIANISM was the belief that Jesus Christ was NOT FULLY GOD, but only PARTLY GOD
Like part God part man like Hercules
Arias said, “Because there are some scriptures that indicate that Jesus says, ‘The Father is greater than I.’ Maybe that means...Who knows what that means? Maybe that means that he is not fully God.”
The orthodox belief is that Jesus is FULLY GOD AND FULLY MAN
So The Council of Nicaea in 325 AD there are stories of a guy named jolly old St. Nicholas
St. Nick himself was at The Council of Nicaea
Maybe it didn’t happen
Some people are like, “It happened!”
Some people are like, “It didn’t happen!”
Fr. Mike is in the middle so let’s just tell the story, it’s kind of fun
Here’s St. Nicholas who himself would have been disfigured because he SUFFERED FOR THE FAITH
He had been tortured because he believed that Jesus Christ was FULLY GOD AND FULLY MAN
So he’s debating Arias and at one point he either punched or slapped Arias in the face
It’s just fun to know about jolly old St. Nicholas because he knows how to THROW DOWN with a HERETIC like Arias
It wasn’t established fully, is Jesus FULLY GOD AND FULLY MAN
Yes, Christians believed that
What about those problematic passages where Jesus SEEMS to indicate that, “The Father is GREATER than I”?
Jesus also says, “The Father and I are ONE” and that seems to indicate EQUALITY
It is not resolved until when?
Until the Church came together with the Bishops and the Pope and they say, “Ok, it seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us…[BAM]...here, Jesus is FULLY GOD AND FULLY MAN.”
Later, in The Council of Constantinople it was decreed that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are ONE DIVINE BEING IN THREE DIVINE PERSONS
That is a thing that comes from the Catholic Church coming together and saying, “This is the DOCTRINE. This is the DOGMA.”
And the FIRST time we have that is here in Acts Ch 15 The Council at Jerusalem
Because we realize that if you don’t have to get circumcised, then yeah let’s not do that (Do you remember one memorable time when a bunch of adult men got circumcised to enter a covenant? Go back and read Day 82: The Valley of Achor in The Bible in a Year Study Guide to help jog your memory 😁)
But if you DO [need to get circumcised], then you are risking your entire salvation by NOT getting circumcised
So the answer that they are going to come up with here BETTER BE RIGHT!!
IT BETTER BE INFALLIBLY RIGHT!!
EVERYONE who is UNCIRCUMCISED, even if they are BAPTIZED, will NOT be able to enter Heaven
SO THANKS BE TO GOD!!
GOD GAVE US THIS CHURCH!!
This Church actually can TEACH us things that God himself did not reveal through SCRIPTURE and didn’t reveal in the PERSON OF JESUS, but DOES reveal through the TEACHING OF THE CHURCH
DOES THAT MAKE SENSE? (WHY AM I YELLING? Sometimes, as a kid, I had trouble controlling the volume of my voice...I was the loud, obnoxious, dorky kid growing up 😉)
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!!
Even though we KNOW this…
WE KNOW THIS
We know the Church is imperfect
Think about this…
After this, they announce this great news to the Gentile believers
They are SO EXCITED
They are SO PUMPED
Then Paul and Barnabas are going to go on another missionary journey
Acts 15:37-38, “And Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to work. And there arose a sharp contention, so that they separated from each other.”
Remember, Barnabas, the SON OF ENCOURAGEMENT, the RIGHT HAND MAN of Paul
BROTHERS IN THE LORD
They are going day after day of this mission work that you hope and pray that they LIKED each other
You hope and pray that they lived like BROTHERS
In this moment, they disagreed SO VEHEMENTLY with each other about whether John Mark should come with them or not
They separated from each other
THEY BROKE UP THE BAND!!
John Mark was Yoko Ono!! (Would you like to have a chuckle? Just take a gander at the look on the legendary Chuck Berry’s face when Yoko Ono decides to...um...how to put this delicately...improvise INCREDIBLE! Chuck Berry and John Lennon REACTION to the senseless screams of YOKO ONO🤪)
John Mark was Barnabas’ cousin
We PRAISE God for this because later on they RECONCILE
Later on Paul and Barnabas are CLOSE AGAIN
Later on Paul even calls John Mark his SON
At this moment, here is the Church that is imperfect AND YET can teach ACCURATELY and can teach INFALLIBLY
AND THAT IS ESSENTIAL!!
HOPE THAT MAKES SENSE!!
Acts Ch 15 just highlights the NEED for the VISIBLE CHURCH TO EXIST
NOT ONLY THAT…
That has the AUTHORITY TO TEACH US
Some people ask, “Where is that written down?”
You have to go to Mass on Sundays…“Well, where is that written down?”
Fr. Mike would say, “There is a lot of indication in Scripture. But, why do you NEED it written down? Where would it have to be written in order for you to believe it? Because it could be written in The Bible. That’s great. We believe The Bible is the Word of God. But could it also be written in Church documents? Could it also be written by the Church, who GAVE us the New Testament, who GAVE us the 73 books? Could it be written by that AUTHORITY? And we would accept that authority” (I took out the A because he didn't add a B or C or 2 or 3...😉)
Speaking of AUTHORITY…
Here we are in 1 Corinthians Chs 11 and 12
Here is our first CHALLENGING section of St. Paul when it comes to men and women
It is important to understand that, as we move into this, when St. Paul is talking about the head, he is NOT talking about BETTER
He is talking about SOURCE
He says, “I want you to understand, the head of every man is Christ. Jesus is the source. The head of every woman is her husband. The husband is the source. The head of Christ is God. God the Father is the source.”
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO GET THAT RIGHT, RIGHT AWAY
I want you to understand...
The HEAD of every MAN is CHRIST
The HEAD of every WOMAN is HER HUSBAND
The HEAD of CHRIST is GOD
We HAVE to understand this last piece
The HEAD of CHRIST is GOD...question...we just covered this a second ago
Is Jesus Christ INFERIOR to God the Father?
The answer, of course, is ABSOLUTELY NOT!!
So Jesus Christ is NOT INFERIOR to God the Father
Is Jesus Christ CO-EQUAL, CO-ETERNAL with God the Father?
THEY ARE BOTH GOD FROM GOD, LIGHT FROM LIGHT, TRUE GOD FROM TRUE GOD
So Jesus Christ and God the Father are COMPLETELY EQUAL in HONOR and DIGNITY and GLORY
Are they the same??
The Father is NOT the Son
The Son is NOT the Father
The Holy Spirit is NOT the Son
The Holy Spirit is NOT the Father
THEY ARE ALL CO-EQUAL ONE GOD
So THAT is the context for EVERYTHING that comes after this
So when St. Paul says, “The husband is the head of the wife” IS HE SAYING that means that she is INFERIOR to her husband?
Unless he means also that Jesus is INFERIOR to the Father
HE DOES NOT MEAN THAT!!
KEEP THIS IN MIND!!
He’s talking about ORDER
We believe that the TRINITY is a COMMUNION OF PERSONS
LOVING EACH OTHER
NOT THE SAME
BUT LOVING EACH OTHER WITH THIS FIERCE POURING OUT THEMSELVES IN LOVE
RECEIVING THAT LOVE AND SUBMITTING TO ONE ANOTHER OUT OF LOVE
IT IS INCREDIBLE!!
To even just BEGIN to imagine WHAT or WHO the Holy Trinity is
And what St. Paul is imagining, envisioning-he’s right about this in Ephesians as well-is this same kind of DYNAMIC between a husband and wife in their marriage
That relationship, that dynamic, is not the same
The man is not the woman
The woman is not the man
They are not the same
They ARE co-equal
So what do they do?
They say, “Ok, let’s have order here.”
The order that he is offering is that the husband is the head of the household, essentially
What does that mean and what does it not mean?
Well, it DOESN’T mean that he makes ALL the decisions
That’s NOT what that means because OBVIOUSLY Scripture indicates and CLEARLY REVEALS that men and women are EQUAL, but they are not necessarily THE SAME
People have poetically said, “If the husband is the HEAD of the household, the wife is the HEART of the household.”
Just like St. Paul will go on to describe later on in this next chapter
He’s saying, “The head and the heart can’t say to each other, ‘I don’t need you.’ The foot can’t say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The eye can’t say to the ear, ‘I don’t need you.’ They are DIFFERENT but they are EQUAL.”
Does that make sense?
This WHOLE CONTEXT is ALL UNITED TOGETHER
If we start to INCORRECTLY UNDERSTAND that St. Paul is making a DISTINCTION in saying one is better than the other, the IDEA of having AUTHORITY does NOT mean SUPERIORITY
The IDEA of surrendering oneself, or submitting oneself does NOT mean INFERIORITY
That is NOT the context
We KNOW this because of 1 Corinthians 12:3, “...The head of Jesus Christ is God…”
NOT INFERIORITY AND SUPERIORITY
WE KNOW THIS!!
DOES THAT MAKE SENSE??
We need to DRILL this in
Because there will be women who heard this and they automatically shut down
Or they put up their dukes
They put up their walls and defenses
“I’m ready to fight! I’m ready to THROW DOWN! You talk about St. Nick and Arias fighting, we’re going to fight, Father. Right here!”
NO NO NO!!
WE KNOW THIS AGAIN!!
It’s reiterated because in 1 Corinthians 11:11-12, “(Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman…”
WE NEED EACH OTHER!!
“...for as woman was made from man (speaking of Genesis Ch 2), so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God).”
KEEP THIS WHOLE THING IN MIND!!
WE NEED EACH OTHER!!
Where do we even get the idea that men and women are EQUAL?
We get that from THE BIBLE
The Judeo-Christian worldview is MEN AND WOMEN ARE EQUAL
The only PLACE in the world...
The only RELIGION in the world...
The only PHILOSOPHY in the world…
That has ever taught that is the 73 books that we have been reading in this one year
SO KEEP THAT IN MIND!!
KEEP THAT IN MIND!!
OH MY GOSH!!
IT IS SO IMPORTANT FOR US!!
Ok, so what’s he talking about Head Coverings then?
In the ancient world, a woman that went around without her head covered was most likely a prostitute
There you go
Here St. Paul is saying, “Yeah eat whatever you want! Drink whatever you want! Unless it’s going to lead someone into sin.”
So here are some women who are like, “Well in that case, I’m taking off the veil covering. I don’t have to go outside with this veil because I’m not living in the Law anymore. I’m living in the Spirit.”
And Paul is like, “Ah yeah. But listen, that’s going to be hurtful to some of the people. That’s not actually very honoring because you are going to lead people to think that all the women who are Christians going without veil head coverings are prostitutes.”
DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?
Fr. Mike thinks he should have spent less time on this
Abuses at the Lord’s Supper is SO HORRIBLE
BUT YET…(Oooooh I think this one is a first after so many AND YETS… or BUTS.... 😉)
St. Paul reiterates that Jesus Christ is TRULY PRESENT in the Eucharist
When we celebrate the Mass, it is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ
How do we know this?
Because of this HORRIBLE thing St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:27, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.”
That IS his BODY AND BLOOD
That idiom “Profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord” means you are GUILTY OF HIS MURDER!!
THAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT!!
That is why EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US has to go to Confession before we go to Communion
If we are aware of MORTAL/SERIOUS SIN, we HAVE to go to Confession BEFORE RECEIVING HOLY COMMUNION
You know...that’s why there are debates of coming before the Lord and going to Mass and receiving Holy Communion if someone is a public and obstinate opposition to the Commands of God
They may NOT receive Holy Communion
Typically, we just police ourselves
“I’m not going to go forward. If I go forward, I’ll maybe cross my arms on my chest to receive a blessing.”
Yeah, it’s tough
Because St. Paul says, “This is why people are DYING even.”
IT IS A BIG DEAL!!
Fr. Mike spent a lot of time talking about 1 Corinthians Ch 11
It is IMPORTANT though
OUR SISTERS NEED TO KNOW THAT WE ARE EQUAL!!
You know the Church…
This was going to be the last word
Not only the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
HOW AMAZING IS THAT?
Tomorrow, we are going to talk about THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE
THAT IS GOING TO BE AMAZING!!
THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT YOU GUYS!!
WE NEED TO HAVE THESE GIFTS!!
The world hated the Church originally
Because the world said, “Men and women are different!”
The Church said, “Yeah, men and women are different AND they are EQUAL.”
The world HATED the Church for that
Because we said MEN AND WOMEN ARE EQUAL
The world says that men and women are NOT DIFFERENT
Men and women are the SAME
And the world hates the Church again because the Church STILL says, “Men and women are equal BUT ALSO men and women are NOT THE SAME, that we are not equal, we are COMPLIMENTARY”
It’s so interesting how the world changes
The Church continues to be HATED
But what can we expect?