Acts of the Apostles 11:1-18
The apostles and the brothers in Judaea heard that the pagans too had accepted the word of God, and when Peter came up to Jerusalem the Jews criticised him and said, ‘So you have been visiting the uncircumcised and eating with them, have you?’ Peter in reply gave them the details point by point: ‘One day, when I was in the town of Jaffa,’ he began ‘I fell into a trance as I was praying and had a vision of something like a big sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners. This sheet reached the ground quite close to me. I watched it intently and saw all sorts of animals and wild beasts – everything possible that could walk, crawl or fly. Then I heard a voice that said to me, “Now, Peter; kill and eat!” But I answered: Certainly not, Lord; nothing profane or unclean has ever crossed my lips. And a second time the voice spoke from heaven, “What God has made clean, you have no right to call profane.” This was repeated three times, before the whole of it was drawn up to heaven again.
Just at that moment, three men stopped outside the house where we were staying; they had been sent from Caesarea to fetch me, and the Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going back with them. The six brothers here came with me as well, and we entered the man’s house. He told us he had seen an angel standing in his house who said, “Send to Jaffa and fetch Simon known as Peter; he has a message for you that will save you and your entire household.”
I had scarcely begun to speak when the Holy Spirit came down on them in the same way as it came on us at the beginning, and I remembered that the Lord had said, “John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.” I realised then that God was giving them the identical thing he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ; and who was I to stand in God’s way?’
This account satisfied them, and they gave glory to God. ‘God’ they said ‘can evidently grant even the pagans the repentance that leads to life.’
‘I am the good shepherd:
the good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep.
The hired man, since he is not the shepherd
and the sheep do not belong to him,
abandons the sheep and runs away
as soon as he sees a wolf coming,
and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep;
this is because he is only a hired man
and has no concern for the sheep.
‘I am the good shepherd;
I know my own
and my own know me,
just as the Father knows me
and I know the Father;
and I lay down my life for my sheep.
And there are other sheep I have
that are not of this fold,
and these I have to lead as well.
They too will listen to my voice,
and there will be only one flock,
and one shepherd.
‘The Father loves me,
because I lay down my life
in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me;
I lay it down of my own free will,
and as it is in my power to lay it down,
so it is in my power to take it up again;
and this is the command I have been given by my Father.’
And there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold
After my first year of secondary school spent in the bottom class of my stream I was promoted to the second top class in the second year. My new classmates understandably had already been in the top classes the previous year and many did not know me. On my first day in the class one them came up to me and ask “how come you’re here?”. That comment made me angry only because of the context in which it was said. Everyone else said hello like it did not matter where I was from. It was through their positive behaviour that I was able to get by that remark.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus speaks about the sheep “that are not of this fold”. He also notes that these sheep belong to Him. These sheep are the Gentiles, all of whom are also included in God’s plan of salvation. This is in stark contrast to the perception among many Jews that they were the elite. Furthermore, many Gentile customs were considered unclean. Peter too had this view until he was enlightened by his vision.
I must confess that like my ex-classmate, I too was once stuck-up. My pride though was in Catholicism. In a dialogue with a Christian brother, I subconsciously snorted when he raised a misconception which many Protestants had of Catholics. What a great thing to do at a faith sharing session. It is an experience which taught me just how little I knew of Christ’s flock. Where does this leave us in our mission? My sisters and brothers, we must always be loving and patient in the way we witness, never disregarding, never side-lining anyone who has contrary views.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Aloysius Ting)
Prayer: We pray that we will never use faith as a way to pre-judge people.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for coming for every single one of us.
Tue, 17 May – Acts of the Apostles 11:19-26; John 10:22-30
Wed, 18 May – Acts of the Apostles 12:24-13:5′ John 12:44-50; Memorial for St John I, Pope & Martyr
Thu, 19 May – Acts of the Apostles 13:13-25; John 13:16-20
Fri, 20 May – Acts of the Apostles 13:26-33; John 14:1-6; Memorial for St Bernadine of Siena, Priest
Sat, 21 May – Acts of the Apostles 13:44-52; John 14:7-14; Memorial for Ss Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Companions, Martyrs
Sun, 22 May – Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7; 1 Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-12; Fifth Sunday of Easter