Easter 5,year C: Acts 11:5-10; John 13:34-35
"I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, 'Get up, Peter; kill and eat.' But I replied, 'By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' But a second time the voice answered from heaven, 'What God has made clean, you must not call profane.' This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven.
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
Here is a snapshot of the church at work, broadening its faith and influence. There was a faction of the disciples/apostles that assumed one must first be a Jew in order to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. If you wanted to become a follower and were not a Jew, you were required to become one first. Peter was in that camp.
Paul/Saul, the self-proclaimed apostle felt that anyone should come to the Lord, as evidenced by his writings to peoples who in the main were Gentiles.
The 'Christian' movement would have gone nowhere if there had not been some concord occurred.
Peter, the Rock on which Christ invested the foundation of the Church, had transformed somewhat from his days of either one side or the other - no middle, no lukewarmness, no common ground. Peter, the one who had denied any relationship with Jesus, came through the other side forgiven and changed by the experience. He, while holding the foundation of the Church in mind, had opened his heart to a kinder place of love. The pragmatist had a vision; the man had a mystic awakening.
Always a faithful Jew, following all Jewish laws and customs of behavior, dress, permissable and prohibited foods heard through his vision something loud and clear;'What God has made clean, you must not call profane.' God made the food to be eaten clean - then the people who eat that food, considered as unclean and profane by Jewish law, must also be clean. He may have recalled Jesus' saying '..it's not what goes into someone's mouth that corrupts them, but what that comes out'. Paul had brought many to the faith by following the injunction to bring all to Jesus had done well - and Paul's Gentile converts had done good deeds, shown charity and generousity in the name of the Lord. Facts were facts.
Peter's example, empowered by the influence of the Holy Spirit, of using intellect and reason, ended the schism between Jewish and Gentile converts to this new way, "Christianity": his foresight made it possible for Christianity to flourish.
In John's passage, Jesus revises something He had said earlier as 'the second commandment': love one another as you love yourselves. In this revision, Jesus interjects himself into the equation: ...love one another- Just as I have loved you - you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.
In his earthly lifetime he had loved the unloveable, ate with the outcasts, touched the unclean, broken lots of "man made" Jewish laws. Now the disciples - through action and word - we were to pass along the same kind of love that Jesus had for them. If, in the name of Jesus, in the Spirit of Jesus, in the power of Jesus, we show love to one another - - especially in this confusing, complicated, imperfect age - - everyone will know, even to this day that we are Jesus' disciples.
Tradition, Scripture, Spirit influenced Reason. It worked then. May it work now - in a world yearning for uncommon, unconditional love.
Copyright © 2007 K.L.Joanna Depue and DJ on www.geraniumfarm.org.