All or nothing propositions tend to exacerbate an already heated issue, and can become more about the polarization and the divisiveness rather than the issue at hand. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Paul meets Timothy whose mother was Jewish and whose father was Greek. After his heated battle with those Jewish-Christians who insisted that converts to Christianity had to become Jews first and a definitive ruling from the Apostles in Jerusalem that it was not necessary, here Paul almost just folds over. He subjects Timothy to the Jewish tradition of circumcision to appease the Jewish factions in the community. Did he decide it just wasn’t worth fighting anymore? Or perhaps he decided the turmoil was no longer helpful to the spread of the gospel? Whatever his reasons, which we can agree or disagree with, Paul made a choice. And he had to live with his choice.
Sometimes our choices for the Gospel pit us dangerously against the world. It is our choice entirely whether we stand our ground until the enemy is vanquished or we find ways to work with the enemy and live another day. But we should know that the world hated Jesus first. He ended up on a cross. And that cross is before us every time we gather to celebrate Eucharist. Our discipleship cannot be authentic without the cross for “no servant is greater than his Master.” Our Master died a shameful death so that we wouldn’t have to. Although the Christian faith is still persecuted in some ways, there aren’t many occasions where the only alternative is death. The cross is vital to our following of Jesus. But so is compassion, kindness, forgiveness, diplomacy. If we live another day, we can still proclaim the Gospel.
This mass was offered for the repose of +Bill Toomy.
Rolo B Castillo © 2020