Daily Office Readings for Wednesday of Proper 9: Year 1
“In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called. He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God. One afternoon at about three o’clock he had a vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming in and saying to him, ‘Cornelius.’ He stared at him in terror and said, ‘What is it, Lord?’ He answered, ‘Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God:” (Acts 10:1 to 4).
God is bringing Peter and Cornelius together to do the will of God, the Jew fisherman and the Roman centurion. Whenever God sends you to someone, God prepares that person to receive you. That person may be unaware that God is involved, but nonetheless, God is orchestrating the whole thing.
While not a person of Israeli heritage, Cornelius is a man of constant prayer and giving to the poor. His heart sourced faith and devotion has been seen by God. Cornelius is instructed in a vision to invite Peter to come and be with him. It is very odd that a Roman citizen, much less a centurion, would do such a thing. But Cornelius’ vision is tied to the vision of Peter through God. For Cornelius it is a matter of following God’s word. For Peter, it is a matter of being inclusive as shown by the inclusion of various foods, foods provided by God for the health and nourishment of the faithful. The live animals that Peter is instructed to “kill and eat” are outside of what Peter, who is of Israeli heritage, has been taught to eat. While God is stretching Peter to move beyond his tradition, God is also showing him and us that nothing, or no one of whom God has brought into existence, is profane.
What the two men have in common is faith in One God who calls people through visions, to prayer and charitable acts. Within these visions we too are stretched beyond our “normal” traditions. We are called to be with people different than ourselves. We are given insight that we could not have “figured out.” I call these insights “glimmers of grace.”
Within glimmers of grace, some of us are called to move. Some of us are called to be still. If we all move we will never connect. We would miss each other. Some of us are called to be messengers who plant the seeds of prayer and fellowship, God has planted faith in all already. Some of us are called to bloom where we are planted. The world needs both kinds of us. The call we get from God may even change over time. Together, we fulfill the dream of God. Together, we make the world a more inclusive and loving place – a place where God’s will, will be done.
Let us live in order that we might love, rather than just live to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John