Reflection for Wednesday, October 11, 2000: 27th week in Ordinary Time.

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Authors
Alexander, Andy, S.J.
Issue Date
2000-10-11
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Essay
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en_US
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"Recognizing that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter was for the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter as his apostle among the Jews had been at work in me for the Gentiles), and recognizing, too, the favor bestowed on me, those who were the acknowledged pillars, James, Cephas, and John, gave Barnabas and me the handclasp of fellowship, signifying that we should go to the Gentiles as they to the Jews. The only stipulation was that we should be mindful of the poor -- the one thing that I was making every effort to do.|When Cephas came to Antioch I directly withstood him, because he was clearly in the wrong. He had been taking his meals with the Gentiles before others came who were from James. But when they arrived he drew himself apart to avoid trouble with those who were circumcised. The rest of the Jews joined in his dissembling, till even Barnabas was swept away by their pretense. As soon as I observed that they were not being straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I had this to say to Cephas in the presence of all: 'If you who are a Jew are living according to Gentile ways rather than Jewish, by what logic do you force the Gentiles to adopt Jewish ways?'"|I am consoled to see that in the first days of the life of the followers of Jesus, there were different approaches. I am consoled to hear that different gifts were called forth for ministering. It is thrilling to see that, though a variety of ministries were accepted, there was an agreement that all should be "mindful of the poor." It is wonderful to read about how Paul confronted Peter when Peter's way of proceeding seemed inconsistent with the gospel.|I know it is a temptation to become dis-couraged by conflicts. It has a dis-illusioning affect on me - perhaps, it is better to say it dis-idealizes me. Somehow, when this very human People of God seems to be divided and even inconsistent with the gospel, I am tempted to say that we are very far from the "ideal." I know it is a temptation because I know that no community is perfect, in the sense of being free from the wonderful complexity of living together in diversity. And our communities, all of our communities - our families, our congregations, and our church, are from time to time very fallible. I have no trouble believing that the Holy Spirit is always with us, and that with regard to our fundamental beliefs, we have the guarantee of Jesus that we would not be left orphaned. But, when it comes to all the rest, we humans individually and in community tend to make big mistakes based upon our fears and our unbalanced appetites. It's just the way we are.|On the days when I am freer of temptation, I can pray, "Lord, fill us with differences! Let us call forth a thousand gifts for thousands of needs. Let us be one, not in some fear-filled centralized push for conformity. Let us be one because we love the differences among us. Help us judge all we do in the light of the gospel. Allow us to lovingly confront even your chosen servants, when that is necessary. Give us the grace of dialogue without division, communication without categorizing, sharing the Good News without discrimination. So fill us with your Spirit that we might forgive, heal, reconcile and be one together. And, by your mercy, may we together always be mindful of those among us who are most in need."
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University Ministry, Creighton University.
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These reflections may not be sold or used commercially without permission. Personal or parish use is permitted.
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