Step #1: Lectio / Read
The Apostles and the brothers who were in Judea
heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God.
So when Peter went up to Jerusalem
the circumcised believers confronted him, saying,
‘You entered the house of uncircumcised people and ate with them.”
Peter began and explained it to them step by step, saying,
“I was at prayer in the city of Joppa
when in a trance I had a vision,
something resembling a large sheet coming down,
lowered from the sky by its four corners, and it came to me.
Looking intently into it,
I observed and saw the four-legged animals of the earth,
the wild beasts, the reptiles, and the birds of the sky.
I also heard a voice say to me, ‘Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat.’
But I said, ‘Certainly not, sir,
because nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’
But a second time a voice from heaven answered,
‘What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.’
This happened three times,
and then everything was drawn up again into the sky.
Just then three men appeared at the house where we were,
who had been sent to me from Caesarea.
The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating.
These six brothers also went with me,
and we entered the man’s house.
He related to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, saying,
‘Send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter,
who will speak words to you
by which you and all your household will be saved.’
As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them
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 he gave to us
when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,
who was I to be able to hinder God?”
When they heard this,
they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying,
“God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too.”
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Prior to today’s passage, in Acts 10, Peter had his well-known encounter with Cornelius, a Roman centurion, and his family. Peter spent a period of time with them, and many others. He ate with them, preached to them, and fellowshipped with them. Before he left, they had their own “mini-Pentecost” (tongues of flame, speaking in tongues, the whole works) and were all baptized. Soon afterwards, as described in today’s passage, Peter heads back to Jerusalem and he finds that word of his doings has torn through the land and arrived back before him. He finds himself in a sort of scandal with certain factions. What were they so upset about? Well, Cornelius and the others were … wait for it … GENTILES!!! Oh NO! Jews were not supposed to fellowship with Gentiles, much less eat with them! What, Peter, his critics wanted to know, were you thinking?
To paraphrase Peter’s response, he was like “I know, right? I thought the same thing, but God thinks otherwise, and he showed me. He sent his spirit to them, exactly as he did for all who believed in Jesus at Pentecost. If God wants them for himself, then it is on US to change the way WE think”.
Faced with the facts, they had no words. Yes, Peter was right, salvation was for all people. Glory be to God.
To be sure, once accepted, this realization also brought with it a wave of great joy. Think of the shame it would have been if they had all remained faithful to their self-taught rules and totally missed that chance to be witness to and rejoice in God’s vast love.
How different really is this scene from what plays out in our own lives even today? We all have our own degrees of belief on how things should be done, or which behaviors are right and which are wrong, or how God should be worshipped. Well, just like Peter, our first Pope, came to understand with the gentiles, our current Pope, Francis, also understands and constantly professes, that it is WE who should adjust the way we think, and mercifully see beyond our faults, and welcome all people with the same inspired acceptance that Peter had for Cornelius, his family, and all the gentiles.
Let us all take great joy that the salvation Jesus won for us on the Cross was meant for ALL of God’s people.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
“…who was I that I could withstand God?”
Am I resentful or envious of anyone else’s good fortunes?
Can I look beyond someone’s failings and see the person instead?
How have I been forgiven? How do I forgive?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
"Jesus, grant that I allow your loving spirit to sink deep into my heart."
"Let me see those around me through your eyes and not my own."
"Pray for me, St. Peter."
For the Rest of Your Day...
Take time to have a deeper look at the people you encounter today. Try to see them as Jesus sees them. Make a specific effort to do this to someone in particular that you have issues with.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Jim Lundgren.