Brothers and sisters: After fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 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.
On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the Gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter to the circumcised, for the one who worked in Peter for an apostolate to the circumcised worked also in me for the Gentiles,and when they recognized the grace bestowed upon me, James and Cephas 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.
Only, we were to be mindful of the poor, which is the very thing I was eager to do. And when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. 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.
And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 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?”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
This reading from Galatians describes Paul’s recollection of the first council of the Church. The hot topic was just how faithful to Jewish practice and customs did gentile converts need to be? It is clear Paul had a strong opinion which ended up being the Church’s conclusion, although not without debate and second-guessing. The Church opted for inclusion and making the tent big enough to hold all believers.
A new council, actually called a synod, is now meeting at the request of Pope Francis to discuss the hot topics of family life and the Church’s pastoral care for families. Surveys were conducted in many dioceses throughout the world in preparation for this synod. From them we have learned there is much disagreement among believers with many of the Church’s teachings about family life.
Let’s pray that the synod’s participants are guided by the Holy Spirit, that they openly and honestly talk about the many issues highlighted in the survey results, and that we opt for inclusion and making the tent big enough to hold all believers just as our brothers and sisters at the Council of Jerusalem did almost 2,000 years ago.
—David McNulty works for the Midwest Jesuits. Dave and his wife Judy are grandparents of six.
Attention, welcome and mercy constitute the style to which Pope Francis bears witness and requests us to have towards all, including broken families and those who live in irregular situations from a moral and canonical point of view. He insists on “divine mercy and tenderness towards injured persons, in the geographical and existential peripheries”.
—Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto (Italy), Special Secretary for the Synod