I wonder why it pleases a person to be told time stands still when you look into her face, but not to say her face would stop a clock. Why?
I wonder why, when a preacher says, “In closing…” he doesn’t.
I wonder why a speaker who needs no “introduction” gets one anyway.
Many things in this world cause us to wonder. But one of the most striking is that Jesus should want to love us as much as God loves him. “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.”
It is the experience of this wonderful love, so generously bestowed by God, that motivates the apostles to welcome the Gentiles into the early Church. This was not an easy decision for the Jewish Christians. In today’s first reading a decision is reached by the Council of Jerusalem to open wide the doors. Peter affirms that the Spirit of God is working among the Gentiles. He has experienced this with Cornelius and his family, the first Gentile Christens. James supports Peter’s decision by quoting Scripture. The rest of the “apostles and presbyters” fall silent but eventual agree that a letter (like an encyclical from the Pope) should be written to welcome the Gentiles into the Church.
Fortunately, the early Church leaders, especially Peter, understood God’s wonderful love to be inclusive and that no one of good character was to be excluded. Opinions would have to change, laws would have to be reinterpreted, the “outsiders” would have to be welcomed. The way of doing Christian “business” would change forever.
As someone described it, the love of God is like eclectic current. If the current does not pass through you, it cannot enter into you. If the love of Jesus does not pour through you to others, it is a sign that God’s love is not really in you. The love of God has to be recognized, responded to and passed on. That’s the wonder of it all.
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., is the director of the Office of Mission Effectiveness and resides in Chicago.