In this reading, Paul is writing to a community of Jewish converts to Christianity who believe Jesus came only for those who follow the traditions of their faith. He reminds the church that it is not the following of the Law that determines whether someone is in or out, good or bad, right or wrong.
Like these early followers of Jesus, we tend to think in legalistic terms. Even if it is only in our heads or our hearts, we create our own rules for what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus. We measure a person’s faithfulness against a standard that we, ourselves, create. Paul warns against that habit. Instead, he says it is the grace of Jesus that puts us into right relationship with God. Yes, the Law points us to God’s desire for how we should live in community with God and with each other, but the Law itself doesn’t save us. Because of that, even those who were not raised within the tradition of the Law are seen as equals in the eyes of God. This was good news for the Gentiles then and for us Gentiles now.
How often do you catch yourself judging the faithfulness of other people? What standard do you use? In what way do you think that practice goes against what Paul is saying in this reading? What would be the hallmarks of a community where any sort of divisions were erased?
In prayer, thank God for the abundance of life – both now and on into eternity – that is offered to all people.