May 6, 2018 — Sixth Sunday of Easter
The First Reading from Acts begins with Cornelius falling at Peter’s feet. Peter lifts him up and says, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”
Cornelius was likely the inspiration for that statement. St. Cornelius is a significant person in the Acts of the Apostles. A documented centurion in the Cohors Italia, he is considered by most Bible researchers as being one of the first Gentiles converted to Christianity.
The message, however, applies to all of us, as most of us are indeed Gentiles. It is made clear that Cornelius was a holy and generous man. However, he did not receive the Holy Spirit until he had heard the Gospel from Peter and responded to it. That is what each of us is called to do as well. If we allow the Lord to be an important part of our lives, God will do everything for those who are willing to receive Him.
This reading then reports, “While Peter was still speaking these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word.” St. Peter is later criticized for entering the house of a Gentile, eating, and then baptizing Cornelius, but in Acts 11 Peter responds, “If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?” God is there for all of us, but we must receive Him and open our lives to Him.