In the first reading this week we are following Paul’s letter to the Christians in Galatia. In that ancient world where most people were of Semitic descent, Galatia was a pocket of people related to the Irish. They had somehow settled in the center of the peninsula that is now Turkey. Paul had brought many of the Galatians to the Faith, only to find five years later, that Jewish Christians who recently settled there, were telling the Christian Galatians that the men needed Jewish circumcision, and the people had to eat only kosher foods.
Paul wrote this letter to protest against the idea that Christians must also become thoroughly Jewish. To back up that argument he told his own story of being as thoroughly Jewish as anyone could be. He went on to tell the story of his conversion on the road to Damascus. He told of how he had been secretly taught by Jesus.
After three years alone with Christ in the Arabian Desert, Paul had gone up to
Jerusalem where he received approval of his Christian beliefs from Peter and the Apostle James. After that he retired to his father’s home in southeast Turkey where he helped his father making tents while he prayed and meditated on the Gospel. He explained all that in Chapter One of his Letter to the Galatians.
Today’s reading is from Chapter Two. He began it by saying that fourteen years had passed in his silent prayer and contemplation before he became active, starting on his first missionary journey. It is surprising that a man of his great abilities should have spent fourteen years just praying and thinking, but it was during those years that he gradually came by all the brilliant things he later said in his letters. It shows the need we all have for endless hours of prayerful thinking.