Dissension Nothing New

Reflection for the 6th Sunday of Easter by Sr. Marie Lucey

This reflection was originally posted in our April 25th newsletter


When we read the description of the first Christian community in Acts 2, we may wistfully long for such a Dissension Nothing Newone-hearted Church today. But Christians are human, after all, and it was not long before “there arose no little dissension and debate” among the teachers of the Gentiles. Led by the Spirit, the apostles and elders in Jerusalem resolved the dispute by apologizing to the Gentiles that their peace of mind was disturbed, and mandating that no unnecessary burdens would be placed on them. Holy wisdom and common sense prevailed.

The Church has never been without dissension and debate. The challenge is how to deal with it, and this account in Acts 15 provides a model: listen to the parties involved, ask probing questions, pray for Spirit wisdom, make decisions that hold fast to essentials of faith teachings but “don’t sweat the small stuff!” Don’t give rules and regulations greater importance than they deserve. Pope Francis models compassion and mercy, and discourages being judgmental even though he has not changed any Church precepts. While some of the faithful hope that he may make some significant changes, most Catholics, as well as other faith communities, love this pastoral Pope, even calling him “our Pope!”

Jesus does not want us to be “troubled and afraid.” In this week’s gospel, he promises that “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit” will come and remind disciples then and now of all that he, Jesus, has taught us. We must not be discouraged by or fearful of dissension and debate. When the Church allows it, the Church is strengthened by it. “…my peace I give to you,” says Jesus. “Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” The peace that Jesus gives is not illusory, false or surface, but deep down Spirit peace that withstands dissension, debate, criticism, and even persecution.

Sr. Marie Lucey
FAN Director of Advocacy and Member Relations

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Published in: on April 26, 2016 at 8:58 am  Leave a Comment  

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