In today’s First Reading Paul recalls that after fourteen years, due to a “revelation,” he returned to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles in order to present the Gospel to them as he had preached it. This was seventeen years at least since his conversion. His faith was rewarded because the apostles confirmed that just as Peter was ministering to the Jews, Paul was ministering to the non-Jews. Even today one of the characteristics of bishops in the Church is their collegiality: they are participating in a common mission, a mission that also brings them together as brothers who share the burdens of spreading the Gospel and coordinate efforts. The synods are just one sign of that common effort.
Being a brother also sometimes requires fraternal correction. It’s hard for us to imagine that Paul would have the audacity to correct Peter, but even today Peter’s successor, the Pope, relies on brother bishops to help him make difficult decisions. Paul already had a wealth of experience spreading the Gospel among the Gentiles, and how damaging to the mission Judaizers had been. Peter had made a bad political decision and Paul called him on it. We know Peter received correction from Our Lord many times, and in his humility it appears he accepted Paul’s correction as well. Even Paul referred to him as Cephas, the Rock, and appreciated his unique role in the Church. That’s how brothers behave when one of them seems to be going astray, even when a little brother corrects a big one.
Let’s pray today for bishops to support one another in spreading the Gospel and to not get sidetracked by politics.