It is telling that even in the early Church the natural inclination is to exclude the different. The circumcised followed all the rules of Judaism faithfully, so when Peter entered the house of those who didn’t follow all the rules, it upset people.  Karl Rahner, SJ, was a great Jesuit theologian who saw this as the greatest crisis the Church has ever faced.  Do you have to follow all the rules of Judaism in order to be considered an equal follower of Christ?

The early church came to the conclusion that all things are new in Christ and so the answer to that question is, “No.”  But I can’t help but feel sympathy for the first Christians who want to do the right thing by defining what the right thing is.

It’s hard not to judge when we have come to conclusions about externals based on our own sincere experiences of prayer.  But that isn’t what Jesus did.  In those moments when he did prejudge someone, they always surprised him.  Think of the Canaanite woman or the Roman centurion.  His initial reaction was to dismiss both of them as having no standing.  But Jesus was able to admit when he was being prejudicial, and he was willing to do what they asked.

What are the ways in which you are prejudicial?  Do you think that someone outside your understanding of who is a Christian might in fact share your deepest values? 

—Fr. James Prehn, S.J., Vocations Director for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits. For more information on Jesuit vocations, click here.