As Peter reached the house Cornelius went out to meet him, knelt at his feet and prostrated himself. But Peter helped him up. ‘Stand up,’ he said ‘I am only a man after all!’
Then Peter addressed them: ‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.’
While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit came down on all the listeners. Jewish believers who had accompanied Peter were all astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on the pagans too, since they could hear them speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God. Peter himself then said, ‘Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these people, now they have received the Holy Spirit just as much as we have?’ He then gave orders for them to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterwards they begged him to stay on for some days.
First reading for the 6th Sunday of Easter
We all have our likes and our dislikes, our prejudices and fears, our pride and our selfishnesses. Yet as Christians, especially, we should know that the love and mercy of God is for all people – those who were always faithful to Christ; those who abandoned him; even those who killed him.
Often though we Christians need to catch up. The story of Cornelius both demonstrates God’s love for the outsider and, in Peter, the Church catching up on the fact!
We’re still catching up…
- Where are you lacking in the generosity of God in your attitude to others?
- Where do you close doors rather than open them?
Cornelius and the Angel. Chester Cathedral. (c) 2017, Allen Morris