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Wednesday – Twenty-seventh Week – OT2
Readings: Gal 2:1-2, 7-14; Lk 11:1-4.
1/ First Reading: NAB Galatians 2:1 Then after fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2 I went up in accord with a revelation, and I presented to them the gospel that I preach to the Gentiles– but privately to those of repute– so that I might not be running, or have run, in vain. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter to the circumcised, 8 for the one who worked in Peter for an apostolate to the circumcised worked also in me for the Gentiles, 9 and when they recognized the grace bestowed upon me, James and Kephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas their right hands in partnership, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, we were to be mindful of the poor, which is the very thing I was eager to do. 11 And when Kephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. 12 For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised. 13 And the rest of the Jews (also) acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Kephas in front of all, “If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
2/ Gospel: NAB Luke 11:1 He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” 2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread 4 and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”
I. THEME: Principles and actions
In order for human actions to be good and consistent, people need to be guided by some principles, not just by following their passions. For examples, in order to preserve the community’s order and harmony, people in that community need to follow some principles and rules; if not, the community shall be disordered and conflicted. Similarly in education, parents need to agree with each other about principles which they want their children to follow and must do anything they can to enforce them. If parents educate their children without principles and just according to their mood, their children will be confused and don’t know how to differentiate between good and bad. As a result, their children shall live according to what they want.
Today readings show us the need to have and to follow some principles. In the first reading, the early Church was in confusion because the faithful didn’t know whom they should follow on the problem of circumcision: on the one side, it is Peter, the Church’s leader, and on the other side is St. Paul, the Gentiles’ apostle. In the Gospel, Jesus’ apostles asked him to teach them how to pray because they didn’t know how to pray as they should. Jesus taught them the “Our Father” which is the basic and important prayer of all the faithful. This prayer gives people some important principles when one prays to God.
1/ Reading I: The faithful need to follow some principles to protect the Church’s unity.
1.1/ Paul’s good intention: The Church’s unity is one of important themes in the Pauline Letter. In today passage, Paul wanted to be in communion with the church in Jerusalem, so he, Barnabas and Titus went up there to meet Peter, the Church’s leader and some of important people in the Church about the Gospel which he preached to the Gentiles. His purpose is for the Church to be in unity in the doctrines so that the Gentile faithful shall not be confused.
1.2/ Each faithful has a different task in preaching the same Gospel.
– In God’s plan, Paul was selected to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles who aren’t circumcised while Peter was chosen to preach the Gospel to the Jews who are circumcised. Though their tasks are different, but the One who works in Peter and makes him the apostle of the circumcised is also the One who works in Paul and makes him the apostle of the Gentiles.
– People need to respect others’ roles in preaching of the Gospel: When recognized God’s grace for Paul, Peter, James and John, those who were regarded as the Church’ pillars shook his hand to show their communion. They agreed that Paul and Barnabas continue to work among the Gentiles while Peter, James and John continue to work among the Jews. One common thing they agree is all of them must care for those in need.
1.3/ The Church’s leaders must act according to the same principles for the Gospel to be fruitful: One of their conflicts was reported in today passage. According to the Baptism’s principle, when one is baptized, he is incorporated in Christ’s body so that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). Paul reported that their actions were very different in today reading:
– Peter’s reaction: “For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised.” The leader can’t be afraid to act against the principle.
– The crowd’s reaction: “And the rest of the Jews also acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.” The crowd just followed the leader, but they also have a duty to stand for the truth.
– Paul’s reaction: At Antioch, Paul stood on his ground and opposed Peter in his face because he was wrong and not followed the truth of the Gospel. Paul corrected Peter in front of people, “If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
2/ Gospel: We must pray so that we should do God’s will.
2.1/ Not everyone knows how to pray: According to Jewish tradition, many Rabbis teach their disciples a simple prayer so that they can use to pray daily. John the Baptist also did as such to his disciples. In today Gospel, Luke reported one of Jesus’ disciples came to ask him that: “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” The reason why they need to be taught is because they don’t always know how to pray; for examples, someone prays for everything, the other prays for things that hurt others, and still other prays only for himself.
2.2/ Jesus taught his disciples how to pray: “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.” Observing Jesus’ teaching, we recognized some important principles as follows:
(1) What related to God must be asked first: Above all, a prayer is offered to God who is the Father of all; He always loves and cares for the needs of His children. All what belong to God must be asked before individual needs. In the Our Father according to Matthew, we must pray for God’s name to be glorified, not ours; for God’s kingdom to come, not our kingdom to come before God’s. Praying but also recognizing the duty of a son is to glorify his Father’s name and to make His kingdom come by his works and way of life – so that everyone can see and glorify his Father in heaven.
(2) What are related to men: These include past, present, and future.
– Present: “Give us each day our daily bread.” We ask God for “our daily bread;” we shouldn’t ask Him the bread for our whole life.
– Past: “Forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us.” We cannot ask God to destroy our enemies as Jonah did; but to bring them to repentance so that they might live.
– Future: “Do not subject us to the final test.” We cannot avoid temptations of sin because they are needed for our growth; but we ask God for strength to overcome temptations.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must act according to some definite principles in our life, family and community to protect the unity. We need to understand reasons and the importance of principles before we can act and teach people to do the same.
– We need to recognize and to respect others’ mission in God’s plan of salvation.