This reading from Galatians describes Paul’s recollection of the first council of the Church. The hot topic was just how faithful to Jewish practice and customs did gentile converts need to be? It is clear Paul had a strong opinion which ended up being the Church’s conclusion, although not without debate and second-guessing. The Church opted for inclusion and making the tent big enough to hold all believers.

A new council, actually called a synod, is now meeting at the request of Pope Francis to discuss the hot topics of family life and the Church’s pastoral care for families. Surveys were conducted in many dioceses throughout the world in preparation for this synod. From them we have learned there is much disagreement among believers with many of the Church’s teachings about family life.

Let’s pray that the synod’s participants are guided by the Holy Spirit, that they openly and honestly talk about the many issues highlighted in the survey results, and that we opt for inclusion and making the tent big enough to hold all believers just as our brothers and sisters at the Council of Jerusalem did almost 2,000 years ago.

—David McNulty works for the Midwest Jesuits. Dave and his wife Judy are grandparents of six.