(This is Neil)
Dear brothers and sisters, as disciples of the Lord we have a common responsibility to the world, we must carry out a common service: as the first Christian community of Jerusalem, beginning from what we already share, we must give a strong witness, founded spiritually and supported by reason, of the only God who has revealed Himself and who speaks to us in Christ, to be bearers of a message that directs and illumines the path of the man of our time, often deprived of clear and valid points of reference. Hence, it is important to grow each day in mutual love, committing ourselves to overcome those barriers that still exist among Christians; to feel that a true interior unity exists among all those who follow the Lord; to collaborate as much as possible, working together on the questions that are still open; and above all, to be conscious that in this itinerary the Lord must assist us, he still has to help us much because, without Him, alone, without “abiding in Him,” we can do nothing (cf. John 15:5).
Pope Benedict XVI, “On Praying for Christian Unity,” General Audience 1.19.11
Devotion to the Apostles’ Teaching Unites Us
Isaiah 51:4-8 Listen to me, my people
Psalm 119:105-112 Your word is a lamp to my feet
Romans 1:15-17 Eagerness to proclaim the Gospel
John 17:6-19 I have made your name known
The Church of Jerusalem in the Acts of the Apostles was united in its devotion to the apostles’ teaching, despite the great diversity of language and culture amongst its members. The apostles’ teaching is their witness to the life, teaching, ministry, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Their teaching is what St Paul simply calls “the gospel.” The apostles’ teaching, as exemplified by St Peter’s preaching in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. In his use of the prophet Joel, he connects the Church with the biblical story of the people of God, drawing us into the narrative that begins in creation itself.
Despite divisions the Word of God gathers and unites us. The apostles’ teaching, the good news in all its fullness, was at the centre of unity in diversity of the first Church of Jerusalem. Christians in Jerusalem remind us today that it is not simply the “apostles’ teaching” that the united earliest church, but devotion to that teaching. Such devotion is reflected in St Paul identifying the gospel as “the power of God for salvation.”
The prophet Isaiah reminds us that God’s teaching is inseparable from God’s “justice for a light to the peoples.” Or, as the psalmist prays, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Your decrees are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.”
God of Light, we give you thanks for the revelation of your truth in Jesus Christ, your Living Word, which we have received through the apostles’ teaching, first heard at Jerusalem. May your Holy Spirit continue to sanctify us in the truth of your Son, so that united in Him we may grow in devotion to the Word, and together serve your Kingdom in humility and love. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
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