Today’s First Reading: Acts 11:1-18 – 4th WEEK OF EASTER: Monday, 13 May 2019
Cornelius was a professional soldier and a leading citizen in the town of Caesarea. He reverenced and obeyed God, but had not converted to Judaism. Almost certainly, none of the disciples would have expected him to be transformed by God. However, one day as he prayed, Cornelius received a vision of an angel calling him to send to Joppa for Simon Peter (Acts 11:13).
When Peter came and recounted the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit “fell on [Cornelius and his household] just as he did on [the disciples] at the beginning” (Acts 11:15). This was incredible! Gentiles were touched directly by the God of Israel!
Equally impressive, however, was the softness of Peter’s heart toward the Lord. Having seen the wonder of what happened to Cornelius and his household, Peter promptly discarded his old conceptions of how things should be done. He probably thought that only Jews could become Christians, or that anyone who wanted to follow Jesus must first become a Jew. Certainly, in early Christianity, adherents of these positions existed (Acts 11:2-3).
How did Peter’s mind change? Through prayer. Peter’s softness of heart began as he spent time with Jesus in prayer, and matured as he obeyed the Lord. It was through prayer that Peter received the direction to call all things clean, and his understanding was expanded further when he obeyed the direction the Lord had given him (Acts 11:15-17). The same is true for us. Prayer and obedience to the Lord are absolutely essential in order for the marvelous works of God to become visible in the world.
Prayer is indispensable in preparing hearts to tell others about the good news of life in Jesus. It is indispensable in preparing hearts to receive God’s love and healing touch. Pray for a wayward child, and irksome neighbor, or a difficult co-worker. If God could move so powerfully in the heart of a Roman soldier, who knows what He may do in the hearts of our friends, families, and even our enemies?
Jakarta, 13 May 2019
A Christian Pilgrim