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Sixth Sunday of Easter

At the end of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus commanded his apostles to “go make disciples of all nations...” (Matthew 28:19-20) The Jewish people had been the first to hear the word of God, and the Good News would  come to the gentiles through them. “Salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). St Paul was chosen especially by God for this work. He was ideally suited, being a pharisee and versed in Jewish scripture. He came from Tarsus, an important centre of trade and learning. It was a city favoured by the Roman rulers; Julius Caesar, Augustus and many of the Jews there became Roman citizens, including the parents of St Paul. Paul’s first language was probably Greek, though he spoke Aramaic as well. He received his education in Jerusalem, being taught by the great Gamaliel. He was therefore at home both in the Jewish world and in that of the Roman Empire.

While Paul was a Jewish teacher, he did not want to burden the gentiles with Jewish practices such as circumcision. He believed that Jesus Christ had fulfilled the Law and in him the converts would receive salvation. God longs for people to come to him and is constantly reaching out. He does not want to make the path to faith difficult.

The Council of Jerusalem made its decision in the name of the Holy Spirit. We pray that he will continue to guide the Church with his wisdom as he did with the early Christian community.