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Lectio Divina - 6th Sunday of Easter


Vision of Cornelius the Centurion

Gerbrand van den Eeckhout   1664

 

 

Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (1621–1674) was a Dutch Golden Age painter known for his contributions to the Dutch Baroque movement. He was born in Amsterdam and trained under Rembrandt, which greatly influenced his artistic style. Van den Eeckhout's works often depicted biblical and historical scenes, characterized by rich colours, dramatic lighting, and detailed brushwork. He was particularly skilled in portraiture and was esteemed for his ability to capture emotional depth in his subjects. Despite being overshadowed by his master Rembrandt, Van den Eeckhout left behind a significant body of work that showcases his talent and contribution to Dutch art during the 17th century.

 

Lectio 

Acts 10: 25-26, 34-35, 44-48

 

 

Jerusalem Bible:

25 and as Peter reached the house Cornelius went out to meet him, fell at his feet and did him reverence.26 But Peter helped him up. 'Stand up,' he said, ' after all, I am only a man!' 34 Then Peter addressed them, 'I now really understand', he said, 'that God has no favourites, 35 but that anybody of any nationality who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit came down on all the listeners. 45 Jewish believers who had accompanied Peter were all astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on gentiles too, 46 since they could hear them speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God. Peter himself then said, 47 'Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these people, now they have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?' 48 He then gave orders for them to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterwards they begged him to stay on for some days.

The English Standard Bible:

25When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshipped him. 26But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man. 34So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 44While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47“Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

New Catholic Bible:

25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and, falling at his feet, paid him homage. 26 Peter, however, raised him up, saying, “Get up. I myself am also a human being.” 34Then Peter proceeded to speak and said, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. 35 Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him. 44 While Peter was still speaking these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word. 45The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also, 46for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God. Then Peter responded, 47 “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?”  48 He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for a few days.

 

Meditatio

The title "Acts of the Apostles" does not really correspond to the content of the book, "The Acts of the Holy Spirit" would be more appropriate: the Holy Spirit is the central figure, giving the Acts of the Apostles its character.

The apostles Peter and Paul also feature: Peter is the primary subject in the first twelve chapters, while Paul serves a similar function from chapter 13 onwards. In the first part, the geographical centre is Jerusalem; in the second, it is Antioch, the town where believers were first called Christians.

The subject and purpose of this book is beautifully indicated in the words of the Lord in verse 8 of the first chapter: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

God uses different means to bring souls to his awareness: The conversion of the Ethiopian (ch. 8) Saul (ch.9) and Cornelius (ch. 10). As chapter 10 begins, we have the preparation of the meeting between Cornelius and Peter. Peter has a vision of every kind of [unclean] animal, bird and reptile with a voice, “kill and eat”. Peter’s reluctance to eat shows how deeply Jewish prejudices were rooted, and what was the superiority of the Israelite vis-à-vis a pagan. By this vision God wanted to teach Peter to no longer distinguish between a “pure” people and impure nations. All are sinners and are objects of the same mercy (Rom. 10:12)[1]. We are not to consider some as less worthy than others to receive the gospel. Though Paul was Apostle to the Gentiles, we see Peter open the door of the kingdom of heaven to them.

 

V25-26: Cornelius upon meeting Peter, threw himself at his feet, he thought of the superiority of the one whom the Lord sent him, and wanted to honour him. Peter’s response was not just that he is not a celestial being, but he is an equal, a sinner and by grace a redeemed one. Peter realises the vision he received referred to this Roman centurion and all other Gentiles who embrace the gospel.

 

V34-35: This section, running till v. 43 is Peter’s preaching. God shows no partiality/favouritism. Though God is not partial to people of a particular race, he is partial to those who fear him and who do what is right. The standard for righteousness in the past was adherence to Jewish law. Peter says he now understands that having reverence for God is now the criteria by which God will judge. A person who reverences God will try to honour God by acting in accordance to His will. 

 

V44-46: While Peter is saying, “…that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name” (v.43), God chose that moment to interrupt Peter and endow all those who heard the word with the Holy Spirit. This is significant because Gentiles were accepted into the Church but only after conversion to the Jewish faith; here there is no prior conversion to Judaism necessary.

 

The Jewish believers were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out upon the Gentiles as well. Similar to the day of Pentecost when the crowd heard the apostles speaking different languages (2:12[2]).

 

V47-48: Despite receiving the Holy Spirit, they still needed baptism which introduced them into the house of God. The Holy Spirit only came upon those who were baptised, after believing, this is the order indicated by Peter in 2:28[3]. Here the Lord wanted the Holy Spirit to come upon them before baptism, to show that the Gentile believers had the same share as the Jewish believers. They ask Peter to stay with them some days, it does not say he accepted but it is strongly implied. God has provided ample evidence that the Church is to be open to Gentiles.

 

Later on, when Jewish people throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God, Peter will defend his actions to the Jerusalem Church in 11: 1-18 and will further defend them to the council in Jerusalem in 15: 1-21.

 

ORATIO

 

In the depths of our souls, we feel the stirring of Your promise, echoing through the ages and resonating within us today. "Arise, shine; for your light has come!" Your glory, which shines forth, overcoming even in the darkest corners of our world.

 

It was You Lord, through Peter, reaching out to the Roman centurion with compassion and grace, we pray that Your love would continue to break down barriers and unite us in Your kingdom. Help us to see beyond differences of culture, language, and background, recognizing the beauty of diversity within Your creation.

 

Lord, we lift up those who have yet to encounter Your saving grace, like Cornelius, who though devout, still needed to know Jesus as their Savior. May Your Spirit move mightily in their hearts, drawing them into a life-transforming relationship with You.

 

Empower Your church, Lord, to be a radiant light in a world engulfed by darkness. Let us be signs of hope, lights pointing others toward the eternal love and salvation found only in You.

 

As we journey forward, may Your promises inspire us, Your love sustain us, and Your light guide us. For You alone are worthy of all honour, glory, and praise. Amen.

 

CONTEMPLATIO – Quotes by Pope Francis

 

1.   We will never be disillusioned or lose our way if we are guided by God.

 

2.   "Mission is always the fruit of a life which knows what it is to be found and healed, encountered and forgiven.

 

3.   Faith makes us open to the quiet presence of God at every moment of our lives, in every person and in every situation.

 

4.   Kindness is firm and persevering intention to always will the good of others, even the unfriendly.

 

5.   When God comes, he always calls us out of our house. We are visited so that we can visit others; we are encountered so as to encounter others; we receive love in order to give love.

 

6.   The joy of men and women who love God attracts others to him.


[1] …the same Lord is Lord of all, and his generosity is offered to all who appeal to him, for all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

[2] 2:12 Everyone was amazed and perplexed, they asked one another what it all meant.

[3] …everyone of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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