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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Galatians 2, 11-14

However, when Cephas came to Antioch, then I did oppose him to his face since he was manifestly in the wrong.

Before certain people from James came, he used to eat with gentiles; but as soon as these came, he backed out and kept apart from them, out of fear of the circumcised.

And the rest of the Jews put on the same act as he did, so that even Barnabas was carried away by their insincerity.

When I saw, though, that their behaviour was not true to the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of all of them, 'Since you, though you are a Jew, live like the gentiles and not like the Jews, how can you compel the gentiles to live like the Jews?'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This passage opens with Paul’s rebuke directed at Peter, who, in Antioch, "stood self-condemned." Peter’s behaviour, in fact, had not been consistent. On one hand he "used to eat" - even in the Eucharistic table - with the Gentile Christians, and on the other, when the Jewish Christians arrived from Jerusalem, he kept himself away from the meetings with the Gentiles. Paul knew that Peter was acting "out of fear" and not conviction. But his attitude brought deep division to the Antiochean community and the Jewish Christians prevailed over others. In fact, even Barnabas was influenced by it, even though he used to have relationships with the Gentile Christians. Paul notes bitterly that even Barnabas "joined [Peter] in this hypocrisy." Fearing that the same thing that had happened in Antioch could be repeated in the community of Galatia, the apostle writes with deep conviction. If it had been enough to stigmatize Peter’s inconsistency in Antioch (2:14), in Galatia Paul had to show clearly that this kind of behaviour eroded the very heart of the faith. An ambivalent attitude like Peter’s rendered ineffective the work of Jesus himself, who had broken down the walls separating the Jews and the Gentiles. Christ, in fact, has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall and the hostility between us. Christ, in fact, "has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity" (Eph 2:14ff). The Christian community is no longer divided because of the law: the one Church of God is composed of Jews and Gentiles. The reconciliation of men and women, nations, and cultures is made thoroughly real in following Jesus. This is why Paul makes it clear to Peter that his ambiguous conduct would have disastrous consequences for all: "If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?"(2:14). There is no need to put heavy burdens on the shoulders of Christians coming from paganism, which would run the risk of keeping them from entering the Christian community at all. Christ is peace and so he builds peace among men and women.

Memory of the Poor