The readings today tell how the Church came to hold her Genera Councils.

Sunday, 5/5/13

Today’s Gospel is taken from Our Lord’s words to the Apostles after the Last Supper. Jesus told them that the Holy Spirit would teach them everything. A few minutes later he would return to that, saying, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now, but when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.

Our first reading today describes a time when the Apostles would see they had to put Our Lord’s promise to a test. Fifteen years after the Resurrection, a question arose for which they had no answer. For a dozen years following the Resurrection all of their early Christians had been Jews. But then, starting in Antioch, some Gentles heard the word and believed. With that a new question arose. Namely, could male Gentiles become Christians without first being circumcised as Jews.

While some people were saying it was enough to baptize the Gentiles who wanted to be Christians, others were saying that the law of Moses still held, and those men would have to be circumcised.

The community decided this was one of those times that Jesus had talked about. This was an unexpected matter for which he could not have given them advanced information. This was a matter for which they could depend on the Holy Spirit to lead them to the truth.

They decided that in order for them to appeal to the Holy Spirit for guidance, they would need to come together in one place. The leaders in Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem for the first council of the Church.

The Church held its eighteenth general council in the sixteenth century, meeting off and on from 1545 to 1563 at the northern Italy town of Trent. Attending were only bishops from four European countries where Catholicism was the state religion. They approved of ordinances written by the pope’s picked Theologians.

The nineteenth general council was held in the Vatican from 1868 to 1870. After declaring for papal infallibility, they were permanently interrupted by the invasion of Italian Nationalists. 

The Church’s twentieth general council From 1962 to 1965 was the Second Vatican council. It pulled in twenty-five hundred bishops from all corners of the world, and they met for three months in four successive years. Some Catholics who were trained on the catechism of the Council of Trent find Vatican II to be too liberal even though the Fathers prayed each day for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.   

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