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Kevin ClarkeOctober 05, 2022
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Wednesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Find today’s readings here.

But when I saw that they were not on the right road
in line with the truth of the Gospel
I said to Cephas 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?”
(Gal 2:1-2, 7-14)

There’s a lot happening in that first reading from Paul to the Galatians. Paul is helping the early church figure out what it will be: a gated spiritual community for the circumcised—that is, fellow Jews—or a wide-open spiritual welcome to the whole world that Paul insisted it could be. Paul is also helping the early church figure out how it will act as a community: Will authoritarians call the shots without appeal, or will brothers and sisters speak frankly, with honesty and compassion, divining a path in dialogue together for this new faith?

Paul is helping the early church figure out what it will be: a gated spiritual community for the circumcised—that is, fellow Jews—or a wide-open spiritual welcome to the whole world that Paul insisted it could be.

Worth noting, too, is another important component of the new church Paul was helping to build, a pillar of the Christian faith through the centuries that was held up again by Latin American bishops and St. John Paul II as the preferential option for the poor. After he persuades Cephas and others of the importance of his mission to the uncircumcised, the Gentiles, Paul and Barnabas are commissioned to be about their work and “to be mindful of the poor.”

“Which is the very thing I was eager to do,” he adds as an aside.

It is a reminder to contemporary Christians of the importance of this primary role of our Christian duty that it surfaces even in this Scripture that deals with the most fundamental questions of Christian identity. Let us confirm it today, even as we explore new ways to be “mindful of the poor,” determining what that means in our times: expression of individual charity or demand of social justice, or both?

More: Scripture

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