Peter’s Report to the Church at Jerusalem
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.’
Today’s reading summarizes what has been narrated in the previous chapter. The Gentile Cornelius and his friends receiving the Holy Spirit and being baptized is a landmark moment in the spread of Christian faith. But until now the followers of Jesus had assumed that only circumcised Jews were eligible.
The leaders in Jerusalem are concerned. What appears to concern them most, however, is that Peter has broken two rules of Jewish observance. He has entered a Gentile house and he has eaten non-kosher food. Peter’s narrative calms their anxieties and they accept what has happened as a sign of God’s will.
Blessings as we pray that we remember that sometimes man-made rules need to be broken in lieu of God’s commandment to love all. Be safe! Be well! He is Risen Indeed!
- How do we decide whether God is calling us to break from hallowed tradition and do some new thing?
- Have there been moments in your own life when you have changed your attitude to a person or a practice? What made you do it?