Two incidents in the first reading are worth looking into. One is Paul’s having Timothy circumcised, the other is Paul and his companions seeking passage to Macedonia.
Paul’s decision to have Timothy circumcised is of interest in that Paul had already declared that circumcision had become a meaningless ritual. One would think that on principle he would refuse to have Timothy go through with it. But, “on account of the Jews of that region, Paul had him circumcised.” That decision of his tells us we should sometimes go along with meaningless activities to please people who do not see things the way we do. We can’t always stand on principle.
Next: the matter of Paul and his companions seeking passage to Macedonia. It is noteworthy in that it puts an end to Christianity being an exclusively Asian religion, opening it to becoming something of a European religion. That transition is of interest to us now because Christianity is ending its exclusive run with Europe and the States. It is opening itself to becoming a world religion.
Early in the Twentieth Century eighty-five percent of Christians were Europeans. That had the English Catholic Hilaire Belloc writing, “Europe is Christianity, and Christianity is Europe.” Now, at the beginning of the Twenty-First Century the ratio is reversed: and eighty-five percent of Christians are outside of Europe.
The embrace of Christianity by Africa and much of the Southern Hemisphere is History’s way of telling us that it is impractical for us to force European rituals on peoples who are happier with ways of doing things that are natural to them.