Sunday Bible Reflections
The first Church council, the Council of Jerusalem we hear about in today’s First Reading, decided the shape of the Church as we know it.
Some Jewish Christians had wanted Gentile converts to be circumcised and obey all the complex ritual and purity laws of the Jews.
The council called this a heresy, again showing us that the Church in the divine plan is meant to be a worldwide family of God, no longer a covenant with just one nation.
By God’s goodness and compassion, the doors of His kingdom have been opened to all who have faith, Jew or Gentile.
That’s the good news Paul and Barnabas proclaim in today’s First Reading. With the coming of the Church—the new Jerusalem John sees in today’s Second Reading—God is “making all things new.”
In His Church, the “old order” of death is passing away and God for all time is making His dwelling with the human race, so that all peoples “will be His people and God Himself will always be with them.” In this the promises made through His prophets are accomplished (see Ezekiel 37:27; Isaiah 25:8; 35:10).
Israel’s mission—to be God’s instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth (see Isaiah 49:6)—is fulfilled in the Church.
By the “Word of God” that Paul and Barnabas preach in today’s First Reading, a new covenant people is being born, a people who glorify the God of Israel as the Father of them all.
The Church for all generations remains faithful to the grace of God given to the Apostles and continues their saving work. Through the Church the peoples of every land hear the Shepherd’s voice and follow Him (see Luke 10:16).
There are two places in Scripture where the curious detail of a “charcoal fire” is mentioned. One is in today’s Gospel, where the Apostles return from fishing to find bread and fish warming on the fire.
The other is in the scene in the High Priest’s courtyard on Holy Thursday, where Peter and some guards and slaves warm themselves while Jesus is being interrogated inside (see John 18:18).
The prophet Daniel in a vision saw “One like the Son of Man” receive everlasting kingship (see Daniel 7:9–14). John is taken to heaven in today’s Second Reading where he sees Daniel’s prophecy fulfilled in Jesus, who appears as “One like a Son of Man.”
Jesus is clad in the robe of a High Priest (see Exodus 28:4; Wisdom 18:24) and wearing the gold sash of a king (see 1 Maccabees 10:89). He has been exalted by the right hand of the Lord, as we sing in today’s Psalm.
Jesus is nowhere visible. Yet today’s Gospel tells us that Peter and John “saw and believed.”
What did they see? Burial shrouds lying on the floor of an empty tomb. Maybe that convinced them that He hadn’t been carted off by grave robbers, who usually stole the expensive burial linens and left the corpses behind.
“What is written about Me is coming to fulfillment,” Jesus says in today’s Gospel (see Luke 22:37).
Indeed, we have reached the climax of the liturgical year, the highest peak of salvation history, when all that has been anticipated and promised is to be fulfilled.