STEP #1: LECTIO / READ
After much debate had taken place,
Peter got up and said to the Apostles and the presbyters,
“My brothers, you are well aware that from early days
God made his choice among you that through my mouth
the Gentiles would hear the word of the Gospel and believe.
And God, who knows the heart,
bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit
just as he did us.
He made no distinction between us and them,
for by faith he purified their hearts.
Why, then, are you now putting God to the test
by placing on the shoulders of the disciples
a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?
On the contrary, we believe that we are saved
through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they.”
The whole assembly fell silent,
and they listened
while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders
God had worked among the Gentiles through them.
After they had fallen silent, James responded,
“My brothers, listen to me.
Symeon has described how God first concerned himself
with acquiring from among the Gentiles a people for his name.
The words of the prophets agree with this, as is written:
After this I shall return
and rebuild the fallen hut of David;
from its ruins I shall rebuild it
and raise it up again,
so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord,
even all the Gentiles on whom my name is invoked.
Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things,
known from of old.
It is my judgment, therefore,
that we ought to stop troubling the Gentiles who turn to God,
but tell them by letter to avoid pollution from idols,
unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals, and blood.
For Moses, for generations now,
has had those who proclaim him in every town,
as he has been read in the synagogues every sabbath.”
STEP #2: MEDITATIO / MEDITATE
In college, my friends played sand volleyball every Monday night. I love volleyball. I am not the best at it, but I love playing. So I asked them if I could play, and they said no, the team was full. Then they started complaining about people not showing up so I offered to play if they needed a sub. Again they said no thanks. After a few more times of me asking, they said well you could play but we really want to win, so it is probably better if you don’t. Ouch right? They wanted to win so badly they wouldn’t let me play even when they were down people. (And they were terrible, they came in last place for several seasons.)
My friends had a club and they very clearly didn’t want me in it. I was invited to come and watch the games but they wouldn’t let me fully participate. And that hurt. I felt excluded, unwanted and left out of the group. And even though wanted to be there, showed up to watch more consistently than the people who played and would have tried really hard, I was kept away so they could try to win.
I can’t help but think the Gentiles would have understood how I felt. For a while now, throughout the Acts of the Apostles, there has been a debate about whether or not they should be fully allowed into the Church.They want to be part of the Church. They desired it so strongly. But here were these people putting up barriers to keep them out of their club.
By the grace of God, Peter, Paul and Barnabas were there to go to bat for the Gentiles. They were able to describe the miracles that had happened because of their belief in God. Peter fights for their cause saying, “God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the Gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit just as he did us.”
God knew their heart. God knew they were ready to be part of the faith. God knew they wanted it. But it took other people thinking differently and seeing the Gentiles for who they were, people who loved God, for them to invite them in.
Peter asks those present, “Why, then, are you now putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples” what God is doing in their lives? How often do we deny those who are passionate in? How often do we judge someone for not being interested in faith before we know their heart? We can’t know what is truly happening in someone, but God does. We need to make sure we are not not getting in the way of all that God is trying to do. He knows the heart and is doing more in their life than we can even imagine. Our job, is to invite them to join us.
STEP #3: ORATIO / PRAY
God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit just as he did us.
Do I judge people without knowing their heart?
Do I invite others to the faith?
I am I opening the door for God to work, or am I getting in His way?
STEP #4: CONTEMPLATIO / CONTEMPLATE
God knows the heart.
It is in God's hands, not mine.
Be an invitation.
FOR THE REST OF YOUR DAY...
Look and your friends, your family, your own biases. Offer an invitation of faith to someone who you know but wouldn't normally ask. You can invite them to Mass, invite them to pray for you or invite them to pray with you. Don't worry about how they will react, offer the invitation to them. God knows their heart, let Him work in them.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Lisa Kendzior.
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