THE “APOSTOLIC” CHURCH IS TEACHABLE
(Friday, May 12)
The readings of the past few days from the Book of Acts, which is read this season of Pascha-to-Pentecost, are about St. Peter finally going to preach to the Gentiles. As described in Chapter 10 of Acts, well after Pentecost St. Peter is invited to come and preach to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile, after Peter has had a vision instructing him not to consider anyone “common or unclean.” Isn’t it surprising that at this point, – well after the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles on Pentecost; after they had been given the gift of speaking different languages, and also after the Lord had commanded them to go and make disciples of *all* the nations (Mt 28:19), – that Peter, at this point, still needs a special vision to convince him to go and preach to the house of this Gentile, Cornelius?
I think it’s surprising, but comforting in a way, to know that even after Pentecost the Apostle Peter was still learning, was still God’s work-in-progress. Peter was not “made perfect” at Pentecost. He still held on to some of his “old” ways and understanding of things. As he explains to those gathered in the house of Cornelius, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” (Acts 10:28) So, now he is open and willing to “keep company with and go to one of another nation,” and by the end of this chapter, after he preaches to them and they are all filled with the Holy Spirit, he even baptizes the whole lot of these Gentiles. It is a major learning moment for the Apostle and for his understanding of his vocation, as an Apostle.
I find this comforting, because we also are not “made perfect” in Holy Baptism, either individually or communally, as Church. We also have not only small but big lessons to learn, as we continue on the cross-carrying journey of being Church, of being a Church we profess to be “apostolic.” Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me Your statutes, and keep us teachable.