Sunday Vigil

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Galatians 2, 1-10

It was not until fourteen years had gone by that I travelled up to Jerusalem again, with Barnabas, and I took Titus with me too.

My journey was inspired by a revelation and there, in a private session with the recognised leaders, I expounded the whole gospel that I preach to the gentiles, to make quite sure that the efforts I was making and had already made should not be fruitless.

Even then, and although Titus, a Greek, was with me, there was no demand that he should be circumcised;

but because of some false brothers who had secretly insinuated themselves to spy on the freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, intending to reduce us to slavery-

people we did not defer to for one moment, or the truth of the gospel preached to you might have been compromised. . .

but those who were recognised as important people -- whether they actually were important or not: There is no favouritism with God -those recognised leaders, I am saying, had nothing to add to my message.

On the contrary, once they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been entrusted to me, just as to Peter the gospel for the circumcised

(for he who empowered Peter's apostolate to the circumcision also empowered mine to the gentiles),

and when they acknowledged the grace that had been given to me, then James and Cephas and John, who were the ones recognised as pillars, offered their right hands to Barnabas and to me as a sign of partnership: we were to go to the gentiles and they to the circumcised.

They asked nothing more than that we should remember to help the poor, as indeed I was anxious to do in any case.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

After having told them about the call he had received from God to proclaim the Gospel to the pagans, Paul writes to the Galatians that he returned to Jerusalem to meet with the other apostles. He knows that the "charism" received from God is for the edification of the Church, not for personal accomplishments. He returns to Jerusalem after fourteen years of mission, accompanied by Barnabas and Titus. Barnabas ("the son of the prophecy") was a Jewish man from Cyprus who probably had the gift of a spirit of prophecy and who knew the community in Jerusalem, where he had travelled in the very early days of the Church and won the trust of the apostles. Titus was a Greek of pagan origin and uncircumcised. By bringing him, Paul wanted to provide a concrete sign of the fruits of his preaching among the pagans. He discusses all of this with the "pillars" of the Community in order to avoid "running in vain." It is not that Paul had any doubts about the Gospel he was preaching -- quite the contrary -- but he knew that the Church is built up in communion and not by personal self-promotion. In Jerusalem he debated openly with the other apostles about the value of the law. Acts summarizes his account, "My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. And God, who knows the human heart, testified it to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinctions between them and us" (Acts 15:7-9). Luke writes that the assembly sat in silence and listened to Paul and Barnabas recount "all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles" (Acts 15:12). Paul was able to refute the "false" brothers who rejected his mission among the pagans by saying that in doing so they would not only divide the Christian community but make it a slave of the law. In Paul’s judgment, these people should not even be called brothers, because following their convictions would put into doubt the very "freedom we have in Christ." This is why Paul writes, "We did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you." The apostle received a confirmation of his pastoral activity from the apostles, who only made one recommendation, which is striking and worth noting: "they asked only one thing, that we remember the poor." And Paul concludes, "Which was actually what I was eager to do." It is doubtlessly significant that at the end of a theological and pastoral debate of certain seriousness, the point of concord was on the urgency of "remembering the poor." Love, the heart of the Christian faith and the heart of salvation, finds one of its cornerstones in the remembrance of the poor.