Friday, November 16, 2012

Acts Chapter 15, verses 1-11

Verses 1-11      Consider these verses with verses 23-24. Notice also Luke’s comment about the Pharisees in verse 5. What does verse 5 suggest/imply?

Verse 5              Note their appeal to Moses (see Lev 12:1-3). Did their appeal make sense? Why or why not?  Now note Matthew 5:31, 33, 38, 43 (We’ve talked about these verses before, but they are good to revisit here).

Verses 6-11      What is Peter’s argument?   What is he referring to in verse 9? What do you think he means in verse 10 by the word ‘yoke.’ Note Peter’s comment in verse 11 which answers his earlier comments in verses 6-10.

Note also Paul’s comment in Gal 5:1, Col 2:16-23 and Gal 5:13-23. To what is he referring? (It will be very helpful if you read the entire book of Galatians (as well as Hebrews 1-10) on your own for some background information and help you understand what is happening in Acts 15 and Galatians).

Spend some time thinking about the ramifications of verse 11. Consider also Romans 4:1-5:1. I know we have looked at this many times before, but it bears repeating, especially since the apostles spend so much time talking about the subject of grace, works and law.  See also CCC 1963-1972. Note especially the parts I placed in bold for emphasis. We will look more closely at these paragraphs from the Catechism next time.

1963 According to Christian tradition, the Law is holy, spiritual, and good,14 yet still imperfect. Like a tutor15 it shows what must be done, but does not of itself give the strength, the grace of the Spirit, to fulfill it. Because of sin, which it cannot remove, it remains a law of bondage. According to St. Paul, its special function is to denounce and disclose sin, which constitutes a "law of concupiscence" in the human heart.16 However, the Law remains the first stage on the way to the kingdom. It prepares and disposes the chosen people and each Christian for conversion and faith in the Savior God. It provides a teaching which endures forever, like the Word of God.

1964 The Old Law is a preparation for the Gospel. "The Law is a pedagogy and a prophecy of things to come."17 It prophesies and presages the work of liberation from sin which will be fulfilled in Christ: it provides the New Testament with images, "types," and symbols for expressing the life according to the Spirit . . . .

1967 The Law of the Gospel "fulfills," refines, surpasses, and leads the Old Law to its perfection.21 In the Beatitudes, the New Law fulfills the divine promises by elevating and orienting them toward the "kingdom of heaven." It is addressed to those open to accepting this new hope with faith - the poor, the humble, the afflicted, the pure of heart, those persecuted on account of Christ and so marks out the surprising ways of the Kingdom.

1968 The Law of the Gospel fulfills the commandments of the Law. The Lord's Sermon on the Mount, far from abolishing or devaluing the moral prescriptions of the Old Law, releases their hidden potential and has new demands arise from them: it reveals their entire divine and human truth. It does not add new external precepts, but proceeds to reform the heart, the root of human acts, where man chooses between the pure and the impure,22 where faith, hope, and charity are formed and with them the other virtues. The Gospel thus brings the Law to its fullness through imitation of the perfection of the heavenly Father, through forgiveness of enemies and prayer for persecutors, in emulation of the divine generosity.23

1970 The Law of the Gospel requires us to make the decisive choice between "the two ways" and to put into practice the words of the Lord.26 It is summed up in the Golden Rule, "Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; this is the law and the prophets."27

The entire Law of the Gospel is contained in the "new commandment" of Jesus, to love one another as he

1972 The New Law is called a law of love because it makes us act out of the love infused by the Holy Spirit, rather than from fear; a law of grace, because it confers the strength of grace to act, by means of faith and the sacraments; a law of freedom, because it sets us free from the ritual and juridical observances of the Old Law, inclines us to act spontaneously by the prompting of charity and, finally, lets us pass from the condition of a servant who "does not know what his master is doing" to that of a friend of Christ - "For all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you" - or even to the status of

14 Cf. Rom 7:12,14,16.
15 Cf. Gal 3:24.
16 Cf. Rom 7.
17 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4,15,1:PG 7/1,1012.
18 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I-II,107,1 ad 2; cf. Rom 5:5.
19 Heb 8:8, 10; cf. Jer 31:31-34.
20 St. Augustine, De serm. Dom. 1,1:PL 34,1229-1230.
21 Cf. Mt 5:17-19.
22 Cf. Mt 15:18-19.
23 Cf. Mt 5:44,48.
24 Cf. Mt 6:1-6; 16-18.
25 Cf. Mt 6:9-13; Lk 11:2-4.
26 Cf. Mt 7:13-14,21-27.
27 Mt 7:12; cf. Lk 6:31.

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