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.
1 John 4:7-10
My dear people,
let us love one another
since love comes from God
and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Anyone who fails to love can never have known God,
because God is love.
God’s love for us was revealed
when God sent into the world his only Son
so that we could have life through him;
this is the love I mean:
not our love for God,
but God’s love for us when he sent his Son
to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘As the Father has loved me,
so I have loved you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments
you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
I have told you this
so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy be complete.
This is my commandment:
love one another, as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
his master’s business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me:
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you
to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you
anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you
is to love one another.’
Anybody of any nationality
Many have said that the first impression on others is usually the most accurate and making a good first impression will be a lasting and, perhaps, great start to a relationship. However, for me, it takes a lot more than just the first impression to convince and judge if the person is one that I can form a strong relationship with. I used to believe that my first impression of someone is rather accurate, but over the past few years, I have learnt that people can be very pretentious; it takes a while for me to actually see through their behaviour as the bad personality gradually emerges over time. Vice versa, there have been moments where I jump to conclusions early and have not given myself a chance to know the other person better. I often fall into a dilemma where I misjudged one’s character and struggled to find a solution where I either want to have no contact with the person, or find ways to strengthen my friendship with the other. The former is usually more difficult, leading me to tell lies just to get away from the other person.
How generous is our Almighty Father that He, as the Holy Spirit, descends on anybody of any nationality. It is funny how the world, regardless of job interviews, networking seminars, social meetings, project group mates or in any situation where you have to bring out a great first impression to others and that is so important for advancement. Whereas, our Lord showers His blessings on all who accept Him in return and that is good enough for Him.
The generosity and love, which God has no limits in showering on His people, is so immense that it puts our daily behaviour to shame. I truly find it very difficult to have a relationship with someone who does not respect me, who puts me down, and sometimes makes racist remarks about me. It is not possible for me to even have a proper conversation with such an acquaintance and the first thing that comes to mind is to stay away from him or her. Today’s second reading and Gospel continuously sends out the message of how God’s love is for all. Also, how He is readily available for us to reach out to.
How can I have a heart so big and warm like our Lord’s? If we are to call ourselves Christians, and to be followers of His commandments, to ‘Love One Another’ sounds simple but it is perhaps one of the most challenging actions.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)
Prayer: I ask for the wisdom and patience to understand and judge my neighbours with the correct ‘lenses’ which the good Lord has prescribed for me.
Thanksgiving: I give thanks for the close friends and family who dare to criticise me and tell me of my faults, and also to encourage me when they see the willingness and passion in me.