Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. (Acts 10:34-35 NLT)
By Fr. Chris Lee OFR
Biblical tradition teaches us that a major wall of separation existed during New Testament times between Jews and Gentiles. This conflict was impacting the Apostles, and their ability to share the Good News of Christ with Gentiles. However, this all changed when St. Peter met Cornelius. We learn that Cornelius was an officer in the (Gentile) Roman army, who at that time was an enemy of Israel. This posed a serious problem for St. Peter. God was going to have to break down the barriers against Gentiles, especially Romans in St. Peter’s heart.
God saw Cornelius differently than Peter did, and was ready to throw the doors of the Church wide open to all Gentiles. The difference was Christ! Thanks to the work of Jesus on the cross, Cornelius could be saved and cleansed from sin. Jesus made it possible for Cornelius to be right with God! And God sanctioned the work of the cross by pouring out the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius and his household. On that day, God did more than just “save” Gentiles, He changed Peter’s heart to see that all humans are in need of Jesus, and that the Gospel is for everyone.
Barriers and separation still exist today. The world is divided by many things including race, ethnicity, culture, geographical boundaries, and political opinions. As followers of Jesus, walking in the footsteps of St. Peter, we must seek out all humans and look at them with God’s perspective. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is STILL for ALL people, and we must celebrate each person who comes to Christ and is changed. Like St. Peter, may God continue to break down barriers, and start in each of our own hearts.