“I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11)
Today’s first reading is the conclusion of the debate that sparked off among the Apostles on the issue of circumcision. Led by the Spirit of God, Peter in the company of the Council Fathers proffered a solution.
Peter’s argument was that if God did not withhold the Holy Spirit from the Gentiles, there was no need to discriminate against them in the name of circumcision. Peter asked a question: “Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?” (Acts 15:10).
Even though the Jews considered circumcision as something important to them as a people following their history from the time of Abraham, they needed to come to a point when they would have to relinquish the importance of this act and realize Jesus’ death and resurrection surpasses whatever circumcision represents.
No wonder, Moses himself said: “Circumcise, then, the foreskin of your heart, and do not be stubborn any longer.” (Deuteronomy 10:16). How do we circumcise the foreskins of our hearts? Simply by keeping God’s commandments so as to abide in His love.
Oh yes, keeping God’s commandments is not easy; it requires self-discipline and having to let go of many things. In the letter addressed to the Gentile community, the Apostles stated in clear terms the kind of circumcision they ought to do: “to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood.” (Acts 15:20).
True circumcision is abstaining from idol worship and from fornication. It is not uncommon today to find Christians who are addicted to the sin of fornication, masturbation, pornography, and so on. Our society not only ignores but even rebels against God’s commandments with regards to sexuality yet we hope to find happiness.
The truth is that so long as we disobey God, we can never find the happiness that we so desire. Jesus couldn’t have been lying when He said: “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:10-11)
Circumcise your heart. Clean it up. Take away from you whatever is indecent, immoral and in conflicting terms with God’s commandment and you will find true joy.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give me the grace of experiencing the joy of keeping your commandments. Amen.
Bible Study: Acts 15:7-21, Psalm 96 and John 15:9-11).