Updated: May 19
Daily Mass Readings can be found [HERE].
In our first reading today (Acts 15:22-31), we hear about the aftermath of the Council of Jerusalem. Through the college of apostles and presbyters, the Church discerned the Holy Spirit's decision (cf. verse 28) as to the responsibilities of disciples with regard to the Law of Israel. In short, Christians were not required to observe the Jewish Law (e.g. Circumcision) prior to professing their Christian faith, but they were still accountable for certain moral obligations (cf. verse 29).
From that council, Judas and Silas were sent to accompany Paul and Barnabas to promulgate the council's decision to the various Christian communities under their jurisdiction. This whole process should call to our attention to this particular dynamic: even the early Church had to address mis-teachings by some teachers of the faith. When erroneous doctrines became recurrent, the Church leaders, guided by the Holy Spirit, had to assemble together to discern the truth received through Jesus Christ. And from there, the result was promulgated to the rest of the Church.
In our day, there continues to be mis-understandings with regard to the faith. As it was at the time of Council of Jerusalem, the same is true today: different Christians might teach different things, and there can be inconsistencies and incompatibilities between those different teachings. Church leaders (i.e. the Magisterium), in union with the Pope and guided by the Holy Spirit, continue to meet to discern the truth as revealed to us in Jesus Christ, whenever a crisis of faith emerges in a particular time in history.
In our gospel passage (Jn. 15:12-17), Jesus continues his words from yesterday with regard to love. The commandment can no longer be: love your neighbor as yourself. The disciple must do more: love your neighbor more than yourself; "love one another as I have loved you". "No one has greater love than this," says the Lord, "to lay down one's life for one's friends".
Blessed are those who have friends, and blessed are they who are willing to give their life for their friends.
Synaxis of the Twelve Apostles, retrieved from wikimedia commons at: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/81/Synaxis_of_the_Twelve_Apostles_by_Constantinople_master_%28early_14th_c.%2C_Pushkin_museum%29.jpg