USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
Jesus 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.”
He said to them, “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.”
Good News Reflection: Growing as the Body of Christ
In today’s first reading, we get an inside view of the tension in the early Church that helped it mature. We see that Paul respected the authority of Peter (Cephas or Kephas in Greek), James and John, and they acknowledged Paul’s vocation to the Gentiles. But Peter erred in his use of authority and Paul spoke to him about it – respectfully but boldly in front of everyone who might have been led astray by his error, so that all would hear the truth and grow from it. Peter humbly recognized the truth of Paul’s criticism and was willing to change.
Today, this should still be an example — a procedural guideline — for all of us in the Church.
Peter’s sin had been hypocrisy caused by worrying about human disapproval. When he had visited the Gentile Christians, he had eaten their food (God had prepared him for this in a vision that told him it was okay to eat non-Kosher food; see Acts 10:9ff). But to avoid the disapproval of Jews, Peter caused confusion among the Gentiles by acting as if it was still wrong to eat their food. Making matters worse, his hypocrisy spread to others because of the example he set, especially since he was the leader (the first pope) of the Church.
He should have stopped worrying about his image and let his behavior teach by example that it is right to trust and cooperate with God’s plan even when if it meets with disapproval.
God was in the process of maturing the early Church. Peter’s hypocrisy worked against this. Paul had both the humility to recognize that God was instituting a change and the courage to speak up for it.
How do we handle Church leaders who work against God’s plans? Do we have both the passion and the compassion that Paul had to courageously call attention to the problem, with the same level of respect for their authority? True respect is based on love, not fear, and an understanding that God is calling us to work together in accomplishing the work of his kingdom.
If we see a Church leader sinning and we do nothing to stop it, we are hypocrites and we contribute to the scandal. Do we respect the sinner enough to speak to him or her about it? And if that doesn’t work, do we have enough respect for the rest of the Body of Christ to take the matter to higher authorities?
Peter’s hypocrisy came from fear; he overcame it through his respect for Paul. Do we have the humility of Peter to listen to and obey what the Lord is telling us through others?
The Church is still maturing. Until we’re perfectly imitating Christ, we will continue to need more growth. Purification is not fun, and no one likes to deal with the consequences of speaking up about the need for purification, but we are each responsible for doing everything we can, in mutual respect and love for one another, with bold passion, to strengthen the Church’s holiness.
Today’s Prayer:Lord Jesus, help me to surrender completely to my Father all the areas of my life. May Your Holy Spirit dwell in me as You desire. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica