First Reading: Acts 15: 1-2, 22-29
Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.” Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question.
The apostles and elders, in agreement with the whole church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers. This is the letter delivered by them:
“The apostles and the elders, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth: ‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’”
Second Reading: Revelations 21: 10-14, 22-23
The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal. It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names were inscribed, the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites .There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three west. The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. I saw no temple in the city for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb. The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.
Gospel: John 14: 23-29
Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.
“I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.”
“Whoever loves me will keep my word.” That’s one of those passages that we like to skip over, isn’t it? “Oh, I love Jesus and I know Jesus loves me! I don’t have to follow that silly old teaching, do I?” Yes, yes you do. Because if you really love Jesus, you will keep His word. That is, you will follow His commandments. If you don’t, that means you don’t actually love Jesus, you only love your image of Him: you love the imaginary Jesus you made up to comfort yourself.
There is only one Jesus and you find Him in the Bible and in the Tradition of the Church. If you want to know what Jesus has to say about a particular issue, you go to those two sources (both of them; trying to use just one or the other tends to get you into trouble).
St. Jerome famously said “To be ignorant of Scripture is to be ignorant of Christ.” I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that most of us today are shamefully ignorant of Scripture; I know I am. This, I’m afraid, means that most of us are appealing to a Jesus who doesn’t exist. That’s a concept that should scare us, since Jesus is the only way to Salvation and following the false Inception-type-version probably won’t save us.
The fact is that anyone who claims to follow Jesus must read the Bible and listen to the Church if they’re going to be following the real Him. Of course, the real Him is much more intimidating and demanding than the Spellbinder-machine version, which is why so many people prefer the imaginary Jesus to the real one. It’s much easier to picture a Jesus who simply smiles and tells everyone to be nice to each other than one who says that plucking out your own eyeballs is preferable to sin and that divorce is impossible for the lawfully married. But only the latter Jesus: the real Jesus can save us. He is the only real Jesus.
That’s why, whenever you hear someone say something like “I don’t think Jesus cares about this” or “the Church needs to change her teachings on this subject” we need to tell them “show me from the Bible or from Tradition where it says that your view is correct and the Church is wrong.” Because if you can’t do that, you’re arguing from a false Jesus and your argument has no weight.
As the Apostles said a couple weeks ago, let us obey God rather than men.
Vive Christus Rex!