Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sunday word, 10 May 15

Another New Thing
Sixth Sunday of Easter B (10 May 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
God’s love is an action, an ongoing one. The community that received the Letters of John were reminded that God acted in love: God loved us…God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. God’s love is this saving, life-giving action. God continues to save in each present moment through Jesus, God’s only son. Jesus has made God’s saving, life-giving action ever present in the sacrament of his body and blood until Jesus’ return in glory.1

From the earliest days of the church Peter received an insight that God’s saving, life-giving action included everyone: “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to God.” Peter came to that with divine help. While he was hungry he had a vision of all sorts of foods—even foods Jews did not eat. A voice commanded him to eat. He protested that he never ate anything but kosher foods. That command to eat happened three times.

In the ancient Mediterranean world eating was a religious event. People ate with those who shared their values, their beliefs, their gods. Peter seriously considered his vision. As he did men from Cornelius’ house came to bring Peter there. He went prompted by God more than by his choosing. He greeted Cornelius and said,“You know that it is unlawful for a Jewish man to associate with, or visit, a Gentile, but God has shown me that I should not call any person profane or unclean. And that is why I came without objection when sent for. May I ask, then, why you summoned me?”

God had been prompting Cornelius, too. He was, in bible language, a God fearer. The Jews he knew lived up to their vocation to attract others to God. Some of them had become disciples of risen Jesus. Jesus’ Spirit was wooing Cornelius. It was revealed to him Peter would help him.2

Those graced events brought us to the exchange we heard between Peter and Cornelius in the first reading. In a remarkable way those events redefined  Peter’s religion! The vocation of God’s People always included attracting other peoples to God. In prophetic language they were to be a light to the nations.3 The Psalmist would praise God with the fruit of that image, as we did today: The Lord has made his salvation known: in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice! God desires to save all who believe in God’s only son and live their belief in him.

Peter gained felt-knowledge of God’s inclusive vision of living faith in God. It was no less than Jesus’ faith. Jesus did not stay away from people the religious professionals put on the margins of life. Jesus sought them and spent time with them—he even ate with them! For associating with sinners and eating with them the religious professionals judged Jesus to be unclean and a sinner.4

In Jesus God did new things, especially including all in God’s saving, life-giving action. Pope Francis expressed it this way:
God is not afraid of new things! That is why he is continually surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways. He renews us: he constantly makes us “new”. A Christian who lives the Gospel is “God’s newness” in the Church and in the world. How much God loves this “newness”!5
In Jesus we are “God’s newness” present everywhere. For that God loves us! God in Jesus by their Spirit loves us as God’s daughters and sons; God loves us because we give others access to God. We do that when we model our faith on the faith of Jesus and make it concrete in our lives each day for the sake of all. Living our faith is Christian love; Christian fruit that will abide.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause to rest in our triune God.
  • Ask Peter and Cornelius, who both desired to live as friends of Jesus, to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for inviting you to make him known to others.
  • Ask him for grace to welcome his faith and life and model your faith and life on his.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. The prayer Jesus gave us charts our course for living his faith.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1323.
  2. Acts 10.1-29.
  3. Isaiah 42.6, 49.6. Quoted in Acts 13.47.
  4. For example: Matthew 9.10-13; Jesus was aware: Matthew 11.19.
  5. His homily closing the 2014 Synod of the Family and beatifying Pope Paul VI.


Wiki-images: Peter’s vision by Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing CC BY-SA 3.0 Plums by Fir0002 CC BY-SA 3.0

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