Today’s Reading: Acts 10:24-49
Today we read the second half of the story of the conversion of Cornelius. Peter hears Cornelius’ testimony and understands that God has opened up the Gospel to the Gentiles. I would like to call attention to two important points in the narrative.
First, Peter declares that after the resurrection Jesus appeared to them because God had chosen them as witnesses. He makes the point that they “ate and drank” with Jesus after He rose from the dead. Peter is including this fact to make sure that everyone understands that Jesus resurrection was a bodily resurrection. They have not seen the ghost of Jesus, they have seen the actual man. This is an important fact to include because unlike someone who was raised from the dead, like Lazarus for example, Jesus is no longer living among the people. The emphasis on eating and drinking is used by Peter to establish that although Jesus isn’t physically present with them at every moment he is truly bodily resurrected. It also has the added effect of establishing that Peter is sure of what he is saying. To eat and drink with someone takes time. If you saw a ghost you would probably be terrified and most “ghost sightings” last only a few seconds. Peter testimony subtlety establishes that he is in his right mind and did not imagine the events. Also, Catholics will also see a clear reference to the Eucharist. While the text does not explicitly establish that the eating and drinking referenced by Peter is the Eucharist it is certainly within the realm of acceptable readings.
Second, notice that Holy Spirit comes down upon the converts and the Peter baptizes them afterwards. It is very clear from the text that everyone is aware of the Holy Spirit having fallen on all those who heard and all had received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Despite this, Peter still baptizes them. Thus, we can infer that Baptisim must be effectual, it cannot be merely symbolic. Why would Peter baptize the converts if it is only a symbol and everyone was certain they had just received the Holy Spirit? Baptism must be effectual or Peter’s action is superfluous and by extension the other sacraments must also be effectual.
Tomorrow: Acts 11