Diocese of Brooklyn
In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter is confronted by those who object to his having entered the homes of the uncircumcised and even having eaten with them. Even in today’s culture, it is not hard to figure out why this would have made a difference. It was simply presumed that circumcision and a specific ideology were connected. The thought that someone uncircumcised could be called to a higher level of belief was considered radical to those who strictly held to the need for the physical expression of union with a group. I suggest that this is not strange to us because our society can still remember when slaves were considered property and when women were not considered intelligent enough to vote. Gratefully, we have moved beyond those superficial categories. But, there is still work to be done,
It is not enough for us as a Church to simply not make people feel excluded. Christ was known for talking to sinners and even eating with them. You cannot call someone forward if you are unwilling to talk to them. Sadly, there are many who feel excluded from our faith communities. Those who are divorced and remarried and homosexuals are only two of the groups who often feel unwelcome – not because of the judgment of Christ but because of the judgments of those who claim to be Christian. I am not suggesting that the Church change her stands on any moral issues nor am I suggesting that the Church hold any stands too rigidly. I am suggesting that Christ’s openness to all people compels us to be welcoming without judgment and to be willing to eat and drink with those labeled by some as unworthy. True dialogue and honest communication will acknowledge that even though there are ways we disagree, love of Christ which calls us together is stronger than anything that divides.
Without dialogue, there is little chance of understanding someone else’s point of view. Without understanding another’s circumstance it difficult to forego judgments for acceptance. Without acceptance, we cannot love as Jesus loved.