Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up in response to a revelation. Then I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain.
On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction. And the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them 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?"
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, 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 indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial."
Paul roots in the promises of Abraham his conviction that gentiles are "coheirs" with Jesus. Prompted by a clear revelation he laid before the original band of disciples the gospel he preached to the gentiles. It is summarized in a famous statement that we will read later this week: Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, all are one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28). Circumcision and dietary laws were no longer obligatory. Paul was so convinced of this new freedom in Christ Jesus, that when Peter came to Antioch and would not sit to eat a meal with gentiles, Paul blamed him, "for he was clearly in the wrong." It's sobering to recall that the subsequent rapid spread of the Church through the Roman world depended on the recognition by Peter and others that on this debated issue, Paul had been in the right.
Like Peter in today's reading from Galatians, we too sometimes take refuge in a bland conservatism. Our good intentions are blocked by fear and false motives. To let the Gospel prevail in us, we need the strength of daily prayer and even of daily Eucharist. Luke's shorter Our Father may have become a prayer before Holy Communion in the early church: "Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.". It remains a good preparation of Eucharist, today.
In yesterday's gospel Mary was commended for her prayerful listening to the word of the Lord. Jesus himself was a person of prayer, leading both a very active life and a very prayerful life. His own prayerfulness inspired his disciples to become people of prayer, like himself, 'Lord, teach us to pray.' The disciples seemed to recognize that if they were to pray they would need the Lord's help. Prayer is not just a human activity; it is the Lord's activity in us, through the Spirit.
The disciples' request is, in itself, a valuable prayer, 'Lord teach us to pray' or to express that prayer in different words, 'Lord, help me to pray; Lord, pray within me.' The 'Our Father' has been rightly called the 'Lord's prayer' because it is a prayer that the Lord himself has given us. The prayer begins with a focus on God and on God's purposes, and it then shifts to a focus on human need. There is a pattern there that is valid for all of our prayer. We attend first to God and to whatever God desires and then to our needs before God.