Gospel: Lk 11:1-4
One day, Jesus was praying in a certain place; and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” And Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say this:
Father, may your name be held holy,
may your kingdom come;
give us, each day, the kind of bread we need,
and forgive us our sins; for we also forgive all who do us wrong;
and do not bring us to the test.”
In Asian cultures, there is such a respect for social precedence (ascendancy due to age, senior kinship, title, prestige, etc.) that it is unthinkable for one of inferior rank to admonish someone belonging to a higher rank. Yet, in today’s first reading we have an instance of exactly that happening. Here is the background of this incident.
At the so-called “Council of Jerusalem” which is recounted in Acts 15, it had been decided that the pagans who had converted to Christianity would not be required to undergo circumcision and to follow the food regulations of the Mosaic Law. Yet a small but influential number of Christian Jews from Jerusalem still expected converts to follow those regulations. Peter had eaten with some new converts and had ignored the food regulations—until strict Jews from Jerusalem came. And then Peter stopped eating with those new converts, thus negating in practice the agreement reached at the Council. Seeing this act of cowardice, Paul publicly rebuked Peter. What is remarkable here is that Peter was the Head of the Church, the first Pope, and that Paul, his inferior, rebuked him because Peter was obviously in the wrong.
Do we have the courage to criticize, respectfully but candidly our religious leaders?