Daily Office Readings for Saturday Proper 9 of Year 1
“So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, ‘Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” (Acts 11:2 – 3)
Both the reading in 1 Samuel and the Acts reading contain attitudes about circumcision. In 1 Samuel David refers to Goliath as the uncircumcised. And in Acts the Jewish believers are trying to hold Peter accountable for eating with the uncircumcised Gentiles.
As a Christian I believe the only act that we can do that makes us different in the eyes of God is Baptism, and the operative word is different, not better. Baptism, unlike circumcision, is performed on both males and females alike. But Baptism should not make us anti-social. We are still obligated to treat others as brothers and sisters no matter what they believe or even whether or not they believe anything at all. All are children of God. But baptism has a special purpose.
The Baptized are called out from among the population to serve others and preach the Gospel in deed and word, in that order. St Francis of Assisi is understood to have said, “Go forth and preach the Gospel and when necessary use words.” This implies that we are first to be doers of good deeds. And as an explanation of such deeds, speak of the Gospel of Christ.
“William Temple (One Time Arch Bishop of Canterbury) is widely regarded as the most brilliant Archbishop of Canterbury since St. Anselm of Canterbury and, alongside Frederick Denison Maurice, as one of its most eminent theological thinkers. Winston Churchill paid him tribute as “a sixpenny article in a penny bazaar.” One of his [Temple] more famous sayings is that: “The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.” (https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/William_Temple) So not only do we eat with those who have not been baptized, we serve them. Thank you Bishop Temple. We therefore, are baptized into the service of all humanity through Jesus Christ.
Since we, the Baptized, make up the community of the Church, we not only do not ask “why” we are mixing with others, but we give God thanks for it happening. Those who have not been baptized, or taken it seriously, need us more than they know. So if we are asked why we are mingling with non church people let us respond with the words of St. Peter, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15) As the baptized we are not called to shun people but to show people; not to sever people, but to serve people.
Therefore, let us hear what the Spirit is saying through (and to) God’s people. John+