Reflecting on Acts 10: 25-26, 34-35, 44-48
Perhaps the most challenging statement ever uttered in the history of the world appears in today’s first reading, taken from The Acts of the Apostles. Peter himself says it: In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Two millennia later, it still takes your breath away. Peter, the Orthodox Jew, is telling the “God-fearers,” those believing Gentiles in the home of Cornelius, that God loves them exactly as much as God loves the Jewish people! And, as if on cue, the Holy Spirit rushes upon those Gentiles even before they are baptized in water! It’s as if the Spirit is saying, “Do you think I have to wait to send my gifts of comfort, and strength, and wisdom upon these people just because you haven’t baptized them with water yet?”
What a scary God that would be—a God who isn’t huge enough to love every single one of us, who plays favorites, who withholds comfort and grace based on our correctly-articulated dogma. It’s thrilling to read the Acts of the Apostles and watch the Holy Spirit, in the first decades after the Resurrection, gather people of every race, language, and way of life into the one eternal banquet.
In fact, Peter’s realization is so important that it is told originally in chapter 10, and then re-told in chapters 11 and 15. It’s as if St. Luke was afraid we’d forget it in time.
And so our annual novena to the Holy Spirit begins this Ascension Thursday, as we wait with Mary and all the Church for another Pentecost to take our breath away once more. Come, Holy Spirit, come.
What are you asking of the Spirit this year?
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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).