Acts 10:44-48 (and also earlier in Acts 10) â€“ The 6th Sunday of Easter â€“ for May 13, 2012
â€œâ€¦the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.â€ (Acts 10:45)
In order to fully appreciate what prompted the very Jewish Peter, a.k.a. the future first Pope, to declare that Gentilesâ€”non-Jews!â€”were acceptable for baptism (Acts 10:44-48), I backtracked a few pages and verses.
Earlier in his ministry, Jesus bequeathed a new name on Simon the fisherman. Simon became Peter the disciple. In Greek, Peter means â€œrock.â€ Jesus famously called the erstwhile angler a â€œrock upon which I will build my church.â€ Aha! Pontiff #1 was a â€œrock star.â€
Peter-nicknamed-Rock also seemed to have stones for brains. After all, the traditional first Pope of the Roman Catholic Churchâ€”eventually known as Papa, Summus Pontifex, Pontifex Maximus and Servus servorum Deiâ€”was the same guy who lied about Jesus. The future Pontiff #1, warming his hands around a fire while religious bigwigs grilled Jesus, denied knowing the preacher from Galilee (Luke 22:54-62). Old Rocky didnâ€™t lie once, but three times . . . and it makes me weep every time I read it. Indeed, Luke reported that Simon Granite-for-Brains Peter also wept after lying, lying, lying.
And yet Iâ€™m grateful for Peterâ€™s deceit and tears. As a sometimes less-than-honest and occasionally weepy modern day follower of Jesus, Iâ€™m glad to share some dubious character traits with Pontiff #1.
Thereâ€™s more to Peterâ€™s rocky start. Before Saint Metamorphic changed his mind and announced baptism could be a full-service sacrament in Acts 10:44-48, he grappled with a dietary dilemma. Near the beginnings of that chapter he did what proper Jews then and now do: he prayed. At noon, according to the Bible, heâ€™d trudged up to the roof of a building and went about his ritual of prayer.
And lo, his prayers were answered . . . or werenâ€™t answered?
Praying can be a dangerous endeavor. Whether through traditional words, in humble silence or even when we spontaneously blather on, confessing or justifying mistakes, prayer means weâ€™re conversing with God. However The Lord God Almighty can be notoriously cranky with the Divine side of the chat. Or perhaps, to be a tad more reverent, the Holy One is oft mysterious and unfathomable.
But Iâ€™ll stick with cranky because sometimes . . . I pray, but God seems silent, indifferent. It gets worse. I pray, fervently or routinely, and God answers. But itâ€™s not the answer I wanted! Continue reading →