Peter proceeded to speak and said,
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34-35)
One of the biggest problems we have in our world is discord. There are too many “groups” who are against too many other “groups”. The groups can be anything: political parties, race, ethnicity, color, sexual orientation, religion. You name it, we’ve got a label for it.
The problem is that as soon as we label something, we tend to define it and, in effect, limit it. We box it in. Additionally, we decide who is going to belong and who is not going to belong to that group.
The final thing that we do, in this world of ours, is to decide which group counts and which group does not.
We have such a flair for turning people away, for saying that they do not matter, that they do not count. I would like to say that this is a new problem because if it were new, it might be easier to fix. However, this problem goes back as long as we can remember. Indeed, as long as we can write.
Throughout the ages certain people mattered and certain people did not. That was the cause for wars, insurrections, and riots. That is the cause for prejudice and bigotry as well.
As I said, this is an old problem.
In today’s first reading, Peter is addressing a major issue of the early Church: just how much should the Gentiles “count” among the Jewish converts. In the midst of their discussions, God does the unthinkable: He pours the gifts of the Holy Spirit onto the Gentiles. Peter had no choice. He knew that God was not going to show partiality and he reminded the people that neither should the Church.
FAITH ACTION: Is there someone in your life whom you shun? Someone who “doesn’t belong”? Have you made that relatively clear to that person? Take a moment to pray for that person today. While you are praying, pray for yourself as well, that you might have the grace to reach out to the one(s) you feel are unacceptable and whom you have kept out of your life.