In the Gospel reading today from Luke 11, Jesus’ disciples come to Him and say, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” Jesus then teaches them the Lord’s Prayer, aka the Our Father. Of course, we know this prayer so well that we often recite it from memory without even thinking about what we are saying. Today, pray the Our Father slowly, and reflect deeply on each word and phrase.
We read a very interesting story in our first reading from Galatians 2. Paul sees Peter engaging in great hypocrisy. Peter had been eating with Gentiles. But when certain Jews came around, Peter stopped hanging out with Gentiles, “because he was afraid of the circumcised.” Unfortunately, Peter’s hypocrisy spread to other Jews and even to Barnabas. So Paul had to call him out on it, and he did it publicly.
This story speaks to me in two ways. First, I understand that hypocrisy happens. Now, it is never right, and I know that. But to think that even the great St. Peter would fall into this trap in some way gives me comfort. Hypocrisy happens to the best of us. Peter’s hypocrisy was born of fear – fear of what others would think. I believe that fear is a great creator of hypocrisy. We fear what others will think, we fear retribution, we fear being “found out.” So our actions don’t match up with our words. Second, I am heartened by Paul’s boldness in confronting this hypocrisy. He was not afraid to stand up and tell it like it is, even to the Prince of the Apostles. Let us pray that we can avoid hypocrisy in our lives, and confront it when necessary.
Father, you know how easily we can fall into hypocrisy. Keep us far from that, and give us the courage to expose it when necessary. Amen.