Because Abraham obeyed God's command and did not withhold his only beloved son, God promised that Abraham's descendants, the children of Israel, would be the source of blessing for all nations.
God is love, and he revealed that love in sending his only son to be a sacrificial offering for our sins. In these words from today's Epistle, we should hear an echo of the story of Abraham's offering of Isaac at the dawn of salvation history. Because Abraham obeyed God's command and did not withhold his only beloved son, God promised that Abraham's descendants, the children of Israel, would be the source of blessing for all nations (see Genesis 22:16--18).
We see that promise coming to fulfillment in today's First Reading. God pours out his Spirit upon the Gentiles, the non-Israelites, as they listen to the word of Peter's preaching. Notice they receive the same gifts received by the devout Jews who heard Peter's preaching at Pentecost--the Spirit comes to rest upon them and they speak in tongues, glorifying God (see Acts 2:5--11).
In his love today, God reveals that his salvation embraces the house of Israel and peoples of all nations. Not by circumcision or blood relation to Abraham, but by faith in the Word of Christ, sealed in the Sacrament of Baptism, people are to be made children of Abraham, heirs to God's covenants of promise (see Galatians 3:7--9; Ephesians 2:12).
This is the wondrous work of God that we sing of in today's Psalm. It is the work of the Church, the good fruit that Jesus chooses and appoints his Apostles for in today's Gospel. As Peter raises up Cornelius today, the Church continues to lift all eyes to Christ, the only one in whose name they can find salvation.
In the Church, each of us has been begotten by the love of God. But the Scriptures today reveal that this divine gift brings with it a command and a duty. We are to love one another as we have been loved. We are to lay down our lives in giving ourselves to others--that they too might find friendship with Christ, and new life through him.
Acts 10:25--26, 34--35, 44--48
1 Jn 4:7--10
Scott Hahn is the founder and president of the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology. He is also the bestselling author of numerous books including The Lamb's Supper, Reasons to Believe, and Rome Sweet Home (co-authored with his wife, Kimberly). Some of his newest books are The Creed, Joy to the World and Evangelizing Catholics.
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