Grace to you and Happy Easter
Do you want to know how the early Church handled the issue of discrimination? Read Acts of the Apostles chapters 10 to 15. There you will find how the Christian mission is one that knocks down the walls of hostility among people, providing opportunities for true reconciliation with God.
As St. Paul said, "Christ has broken down the walls of hostility" (Ephesians 2:14).
In taking actions against discrimination, the early Church was decisive. For example, Saint Peter, the leader of the Church, the first Pope, didn't mince words in stating the inclusive and universal mission of the Church. He fought vehemently against those who thought Christianity was a tribal religion. We find the story in Acts 10, but Peter used it as a defense against discrimination in Acts 11:1-18. Saint Paul was at the forefront of the fight also.
It's the famous story of the vision God showed Peter concerning unclean animals. The Lord asked him to kill and eat the animals. Peter objected on religious grounds: "I have never eaten anything unclean."
God replied, “You shall not call unclean what I have cleaned” (see Acts 11:9).
Peter understood the message when three men from Caesarea came, asking him to visit the family of Cornelius, a gentile's household. Recall that at the time, for religious and cultural reasons, Jews then did not socialize with the gentiles. Peter didn't hesitate and went with the men. There, in Cornelius's house, the Holy Spirit descended on the people, the gentiles, as he did the disciples on the day of Pentecost. Saint Peter understood they were equally chosen as "we were" though they weren't Jews.
This story sheds light on the universal mission of Christianity. It, equally, reveals how we should relate to each other as believers. Many times, we carry our tribal, ethnic, or cultural sentiments into our worship of God. We allow those to becloud, if not contaminate, the purity of our fellowship. Many times we do not let the Holy Spirit break the walls of hostility and discrimination between us. However, whenever we do, there is much healing and peace.
There is freedom in "colorblindness." I do not mean the medical situation of vision problems, but being blind to the color of people's skin. It saves us from a lot of anxiety and stress. Relating to each other as God's children is the way Jesus has called us to live. It is the most healthy way. Holy too.
Once I finished ministering to a group of people. A woman walked up to me and said, "God has used you to heal me of the wounds of hate which I have carried for years. A black man abused my daughter, and I have since developed deep-seated hatred for people of color, and shudder whenever I see a black man. As I came in for this seminar and as the talks went on, it was like God was renewing my heart, bringing healing to the wounds. Thanks for being the agent of my healing."
She hugged me while still in tears.
I bet she had never shaken the hands of a person of color after the terrible thing that happened to her daughter, let alone having a prolonged, sobbing hug. God bless her. I pray for healing for all in similar situations.
There is freedom in breaking the walls. It is not merely about racial discrimination. It's also about all forms of discrimination, tribal, ethnic, cultural, and political that cause hostility among us.
May this message bring us much peace and freedom as we live the message of freedom available for all in Christ, the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for many. Amen.
God loves you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Monday, Easter Week 4: Acts 11”1-18; John 10:1-10]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.