What About “Strangers”?

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter
May 11, 2023

Today’s Readings:


Peter Preaches to Jews and Gentiles

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, the Apostles continue to deal with the assimilation of Gentiles into the faith community. Their struggle is one that continually challenges the human community throughout history.

Think about it. What’s it like when someone new comes into your established community – your family, parish, workplace, convent, social group, etc.? How did it feel when you met your potential in-laws, or teacher-partner, or new boss, new novices, or your betrothed’s questionable friends?

And, maybe more importantly, how did they feel bumping up against your already solidly established relationships and practices?

It’s no fun being the new guy or gal. It’s exciting maybe, but it’s also a little scary. And it’s certainly no fun feeling different or like a stranger in one’s new environment.

And, in a way, it’s no fun being the old guy or gal either. It can be challenging, even annoying, to have to realign our comfortable routines to incorporate a newbie. And when these routines are centuries old religious practices, oh baby, we have a problem!

This is the challenge the early Christian community faced as the established Jerusalem church spread out across Asia and the Mediterranean basin to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles. Through Peter’s leadership, they seem to have handled the issue very well:

“My brothers, you are well aware that from early days
God made his choice among you that through my mouth
the Gentiles would hear the word of the Gospel and believe.
And God, who knows the heart,
bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit
just as he did us.

God made no distinction between us and them,
for by faith he purified their hearts.
Why, then, are you now putting God to the test
by placing on the shoulders of the disciples
a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?

On the contrary, we believe that we are saved
through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they.”

What powerful lessons to learn as we continue to build an inclusive and universal Church, and to deal with the many blocks inhibiting us: racism, xenophobia, sexism and heterosexism, to name a few. All of these are based on a negative pre-judgment whose purpose is to maintain control and power in a dominant group.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter was able to let go of that need. Let’s ask him to help us and our Church.

Poetry: Song of Myself #48 – Walt Whitman

I have said that the soul is not more than the body,
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul,
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s self is,
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud,
And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of the earth,
And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod confounds the learning of all times,
And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it may become a hero,
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel’d universe,
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.
And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God,
For I who am curious about each am not curious about God,
(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and about death.)
I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.
Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign’d by God’s name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe’er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.

Music: You Don’t Have to Be Like Me – RebbeSoul

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