First Reading: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and bowed low. 26 "Get up," Peter said. "I am only a man, just like you."
34 Then Peter said, "I truly believe God does not play favorites. No, God accepts anyone who deeply respects him and tries to do the right thing."
44 As Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit filled everyone that heard his preaching. The Jewish Christians who went with Peter were amazed that the Holy Spirit even filled people who were not Jewish. 46 They heard these Cornelius' family speak in tongues and shouted in praise to God. Then Peter said, "Who can stop this man ans his family from being baptized? The Holy Spirit wants them, just like we do!" 48 So, Peter had them baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. After that, Cornelius and his family invited Peter to stay a few days with them.
25 As it happened (for) Peter to enter, Cornelius, having met him, having fallen on his feet, bowed low (in worship). 26 Peter raised him up, saying, "Stand up! I myself am also a man!"
34 Having opened his mouth, Peter said, "In truth, I hold (in my mind) that God does not favor (one's) presence (over another's), 35 but in every nation, the one fearing him and doing righteous (deeds) is acceptable to him."
44 As Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on everyone hearing the Word. 45 And (they) were amazed, the believing (ones) from the circumcised (Jews) as many as traveled with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and making great (prayers and proclamations) to God. Then Peter answered, 47 "(Certainly) no one is able to stop the water of baptizing these who the Holy Spirit received just as we also (did)?" 48 (Peter) commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain a few days.
10:34 "favor (one's) presence" is literally "a receiver of faces." The idea of "face" indicated one's presence. It is the same notion in the modern phrase concerning projecting one's personal presence in the media: one's "face time" on television.
10:35 "in every nation" can also be translated "among every people." A clear reference to Gentiles (see 10:45).
10:45 "the Gentiles" is literally "the nations."
10:47 "(Certainly) no one..."The double negative (one "no" with the verb "able" and the other with the participle "baptizing") created emphasis in the sentence.
Who speaks for God? More important, who does God speak through?
After his vision concerning the abrogation of the "kosher" in Acts 10:9-15, Peter realized God did not want any separation of Greek from Jew. All were his children. All were to be saved. Through the movement of the Spirit, Peter went to the house of Cornelius, a Roman soldier.
The simple greeting found in 10:25-26 marked a turning point in the early Church. Usually, so-called "righteous" Gentiles like Cornelius, who worshiped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, visited and supported Jewish establishments. But the sense of separation many Jews had did not allow reciprocal visits. Jew were to remain segregated from the "nations" to maintain religious purity. To enter the house of a non-Jew no only meant the visitors were unclean, they were polluted by the presence of foreign cultures and their strange gods.
Cornelius represented more than the Gentile world. He was a Roman soldier, a man sworn to maintaining Rome's grip over the Jewish people. In spite of his generous spirit to the local Jewish community, Cornelius was the "enemy" in many eyes.
When Peter crossed the threshold into the house of Cornelius, he not only polluted himself (made himself "un-kosher"), he stepped into the arena of the enemy.
Yet, Peter's visit was God's will. Peter would not have gone there on his own. This was God's initiative. Peter realized God's plan. The Gentiles were to be converted. They had a place in the Kingdom. [10:34-35]
The Spirit confirmed God's plan. While Peter preached the Good News, the Spirit poured its gifts upon the household. Even the Jewish Christians who dared to join Peter in the house of the Gentile witnessed the Spirit's power. If the Gentiles there were "baptized in the Spirit," there was no reason to deny them sacramental baptism and full admission into the assembly of the saved. [10:44-48]
Hence, God set aside the sense of the "kosher" for the salvation of all. This marked a radical shift in the early Church and foreshadowed the dominance of the Church by the Gentiles a few generations after Luke wrote the chronicle we call "Acts."
God has many surprises. How has he surprised you this week? How truly different is God's thinking over yours? How does that difference affect you?