Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
May 17 A..D. 2009
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
1 John 4:7-10
A reflection on today's Scripture:
There is no more exciting episode in all of history than that of the steady growth of the early Christian Church under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit. Just when the apostles think they understand and preach just what Jesus has commanded them to preach, the Holy Spirit comes on the scene with new directions for growth.
Just when some consensus to Jesus' message of salvation for the Jews has been achieved, the Holy Spirit sends them for a tailspin. Jesus had been circumcised when a baby and all the apostles had been circumcised. So new converts had to a) be circumcised, and b) they had to observe the same dietary laws as Jews. Right?
Wrong, says the Holy Spirit. One day, while Peter is having his afternoon siesta, he has a disturbing dream. Peter has a noonday trance that perturbs him. From heaven, a sheet comes gently down, loaded with delicious food (not all of it kosher!). When told to eat it, Peter refuses, because some of the food is "unclean" according to Jewish dietary laws. A heavenly agent contradicts Peter, and forbids him to call any food unclean that God has made clean! Several miles away, Cornelius, a pagan, is likewise visited by an angel who commands him to summon Peter.
Today's first reading takes up the story at this point. When Peter arrives and sees that the Holy Spirit has come upon these pagans, Peter becomes convinced that the message of salvation must be meant for them as well as for the Jews. This new idea does not go over well with many Jews back in Jerusalem. They are shocked to hear from the Holy Spirit that salvation was no longer an exclusive prerogative for the Chosen People. Now, all are chosen!
The community peace is shattered -- for a brief time. Through their faith in the Spirit, and through prayer, the power of love restored unity. Love is the "glue" that holds the community together, not only then, but in our own times. For nearly two thousand years, the Church has been obedient to the command of Jesus at the Last Supper: "Love one another as I have loved you."
Just think of what dynamic transformation there would be in our world society, if all Christians really loved one another! The example of Rwanda, a mainly Christian country, shows us the power of love and forgiveness. Fifteen years ago, tribal hatred caused the brutal massacre of many thousands of the Tutsi tribe by the Hutu majority. Today, through the power of forgiveness and reconciliation, that country is building for a peaceful future.
When love can overcome fear, greed, and ignorance, then people can reach out to one another, resolve stubborn differences, and listen to one another. God listens to us a lot! We get in trouble when we fail to listen to God. God's love knows no boundaries, and neither should ours. We will never measure up to Jesus' command until we are able to recognize all people as brothers and sisters, and treat them accordingly.
There is no power on earth stronger than love. It will ultimately silence critics, win over those who are hostile to the Church, and bring all nations and peoples to the salvation for which Christ died and rose again. "May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me, and I am in you."
- Msgr. Paul Whitmore
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Sunday, May 17, 2009
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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