In today’s readings, the moment that stands out to me is when Peter with ‘no hesitation’, joins the group of gentile men.
History and even now in the present day have been dominated by patterns of tribalism. Us vs them. Patterns of exclusion and war. Even now, in our modern-day lives, maybe we aren’t throwing weapons at each other, but I’m sure you can think of a time when you have not included someone or isolated them because they weren’t a part of your group and didn’t fit in. Things like following strict rules, and rituals and outwardly adoring items of clothing can make us feel even more secure in the ‘in’ group. A place of comfort and safety. Additionally, the more exclusive the ‘in’ group is, the more ‘valuable’ the membership is made as seen in the world’s eyes.
That’s why today’s first reading strikes me. God’s actions found in the passage of Acts 11 were revolutionary to the history of the gospel and, likewise, the church. The Holy Spirit of Jesus wasn’t going to just be for some Jewish subset of religion but something entirely new for everyone. For the whole world. The actions of God here as well as the general revelation of the gospel, reveal a freedom from ‘us vs them’ to ‘one in Christ’. Peter, while hesitant at first to abandon all that he knows in eating the meat, follows and trusts in God. Peter knows he is in the hands of the Good Shepherd, who will not lead him astray, and so likewise is able to follow him beyond all social borders.
Where in your life can you expand your borders? Who is God giving to you in your life to be generous with the gospel with, beyond social standings or judgements? With the lord as our Good Shepherd, he comforts us and guides us in all as we follow his voice.
Claire O’Donohue is a current Oxley Passionist Youth Retreat Team member. While also in her final year of university, she is completing her bachelor’s degree with a major in visual art and theology.