Today’s readings speak to the call of Christians to universality-another way of saying that we have been told to love everyone. In the First Reading, Paul talks about chastising Cephas because Cephas did not embrace the uncircumcised along with the circumcised. From fear, Cephas failed to treat the gentiles the same as he treated the Jews. And today, thousands of years later, fear still keeps us from embracing those we perceive as being different. When Jesus told us to "love one another," He did not add the word "except." But most of us add it in our minds and actions. Oh sure, we say, I love everyone, except, of course, beggars on the street, or criminals, or people who have hurt me. But Jesus says everyone with no exceptions. In the responsorial psalm, we are told to "Go out to all the world, and tell the good news." It really is true that they will know we are Christians by our love.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us to pray the Our Father. A prayer for everyone. Here again we see the call to be one. The two words you don’t find in The Our Father are "me" and "I." Jesus teaches us to pray as community. The Our Father verses from Luke and from Matthew may likely have more reflections and commentaries written about them than any other verses of the Gospel. As well they should because the Our Father forms the base for much of our belief as Christians. However, probably the best way to reflect on the Our Father is not by reading about it, but rather by praying the words slowly and listening to your heart and your response. Let’s each take the time today to pray the Our Father, slowly thinking about each line-what it means in our lives and how it invites us to change and to embrace everyone with no exceptions.
Mary Lou Butler is a long-time friend and partner in ministry to the Passionists in California.