Memory of the Poor

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Memorial of the prophet Isaiah.


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 11,1-18

The apostles and the brothers in Judaea heard that gentiles too had accepted the word of God, and when Peter came up to Jerusalem the circumcised believers protested to him and said, 'So you have been visiting the uncircumcised and eating with them!' 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 came right down beside me. I looked carefully into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of heaven. 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 gift 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, saying, 'God has clearly granted to the gentiles too the repentance that leads to life.'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The news that Gentiles had accepted the word of God had reached the mother community of Jerusalem. Probably Peter's presence in the house of Cornelius and his family had scandalized many of the Christians of Jerusalem, so much so that as soon as Peter returned to the city, "the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, ‘Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?'" This brings to mind the accusations the Pharisees made against Jesus because he went into the houses of sinners and ate with them. Bu this time they are not the Pharisees who accuse Peter, rather the Jews who have become Jesus' disciples. These people, closed within the horizon of the Jewish Law, had not yet understood the breadth of the love that Jesus had come to proclaim and preach. Their minds and hearts were fixed on an ethnic-religious affiliation. They had not yet understood the breadth of God's mercy that transcends all boundaries. Peter speaks to the community of Jerusalem and tells them that everything he had done came directly from God's inspiration. It was the Spirit that suggested him to visit Cornelius. In fact it is the Holy Spirit, not rules and habits, which regulates the life of the Church. It is the Spirit Jesus had promised his disciples before leaving them and which would lead them to the entire truth (Jn 16:13). After having listened to Peter, those believers from Jerusalem "were silenced. And they praised God, saying, ‘Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.'" A boundary had been crossed: the entire world was now opening up in front of the apostles.