Vatican II is known as the Twenty-first Church Council. Well, today’s first reading tells the story of how the Church’s First Council came about,
After Herod began calling for the death of followers of Christ in Jerusalem, many of them migrated ninety miles north to Antioch; and it was there that they came to be called Christians.
Today’s reading tells about a dispute among those Christians, with some saying that to become Christians believers must first be circumcised as Jews.
We read how to resolve this difference, the Church in Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to confer with the Apostles. Our reading then says that Paul and Barnabas were welcomed by the Church in Jerusalem.
Where The Acts of the Apostles was written in Greek the word they used for the church gatherings both in Antioch and Jerusalem was ekklaysia. That was a word first used in Athens, the first democratic city. The word ek-klesia literally meant “called out.” It designated the free citizens of Athens who were summoned to vote on matters of importance for their democratic city.
By early Christianity’s choosing that word to designate their gatherings we see that our church originally saw itself as a democratic gathering.
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