Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’
But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’
And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Earlier this week, I saw a dad holding hands with his son. The little boy looked so happy to be with his dad, and tell him that they needed to wait for the light to change before they could cross the street. I felt the father’s joy and delight in his son—as a mother, I could relate. It was the morning rush hour, but despite the chaos, the father and son were totally united, like they were glowing in God’s love.
That experience drew me to Peter in today’s first reading, as he faced criticism over who could be part of the community of faith. Would I have recognized the love on the street that morning, if I was preoccupied with this father’s religion, race, economics or political views? I’m not sure. But that morning I saw a father who loves his son. What does that tell us about God’s love for us?
Who are the “Gentiles” in your life? Is there someone or “types of someones” that bring out criticism in you? Bring that to prayer today, and ask God how you can bring them closer to Him. Then ask for the grace to see how they can draw you closer to Him, too.
Risen Jesus, you surround me with such a rich variety of personalities from all races and places and languages. Help my heart to be open to the gift of each person I meet today. Thank you for their grace and strength, their humor and hope, their insight into your goodness and greatness. Amen.
Please share the Good Word with your friends!