Jesus entered a house of a tax collector, Levi, who gave a great banquet for him, and He ate with a large crowd of tax collectors and others. Then, the Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, “Why does He welcome tax collectors and sinners, and eat and drink with them?” (Luke 5:30, 15:2) And first reading of today, the book of Acts tells us that Jewish Christians in the Jerusalem church are complaining about what apostle Peter did in Caesarea, and asking, “Why did you eat with them, the Gentiles?”
It is so irony. Their Teacher, their Lord, Jesus welcomed and ate with the sinner, the Gentiles, but now His church and His followers are asking the apostle Peter who did as His Lord had done. “Why are you eating with the sinners?” What’s wrong with them, Jewish Christians in the Jerusalem church? Do they forget what their Lord did, taught, and proclaimed? Do they think Jesus is a Lord only for them, the Jewish Christians, not for others?
The Book of Acts tells us today, Peter at first did not do what he should. He saw that the heaven opened and something like a large sheep coming down to the ground in which all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. And a voice from haven said to Peter, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.” And the voice said to him again, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane or unclean.” “But No! Lord, as you know, it is unlawful, not right for me a Jew to associate with or to visit or to eat with a Gentile.” And, the voice from heaven said three times, “What God has made clean, you do not call profane or unclean. And the Spirit told him to go with the Gentile messengers from Caesarea and not to make a distinction between them, the Gentiles messengers and Peter himself and his Jewish companions, and not to make a distinction between the Gentiles and the Jewish people.
Then, Peter got up and came to a house of a Gentile and his household to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. While Peter was proclaiming the good news of the Lord to the man of Gentile and his household, he saw that the same Spirit who had poured upon him and other disciples in the upper room on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, fell upon the Gentiles. And Peter said, “The Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon me and us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” “If then God gave them the Gentile the same gift that He gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, then who was I that I could hinder God? And, who are we thinking we are able to hinder God?”
We remember that a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and met Jesus sitting by the well. And Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” And the Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria? Don’t you know Jews do not share things in common with us Samaritans whom you, Jewish people have called sinners and unclean? What are you doing here in Samaria?” And Jesus said to her, “I have come to you in order to give the living water that will give you eternal life. I am the Messiah whom you have waited to come to save.” (John 4)
The second chapter of Acts tells us what happened in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other language, as the Spirit gave them ability.”
Suddenly, yes it happened suddenly, not like they have expected, not like they have ever thought or imagined. But, suddenly, like the rush of a violent wind sweeping away everything old and unclean and chaotic, a divine sound came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting, and the whole world where they were living. And Suddenly, like fire burning away everything having hindered God, and every wall not only between God and the people but also between and among the people, divided tongues spread out and touched each of them. And suddenly, unexpectedly, all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other language as the Spirit enabled them to speak.
Jesus has not come to rebuild or strengthen the border between God and the people, but to deconstruct it for the people to come close to their God through the Son of God. Jesus has not come to build or renew the border between the Jews and the Gentile, but to deconstruct the border between and among the people for God’s people, not just to cross over but also to live together under the reign of God in new heaven and new earth.
And now, just as the Spirit had fallen upon the disciples, now It fell upon the Gentile who have been regarded profane or unclean as sinners. His Spirit is the Spirit of loving one another. His Spirit who fell upon the disciples on the upper room, is the Spirit who deconstructs and tear down every wall to make windows through which we see one another in love, and through which we see the Lord who is present in and among His people’s faces and has decide to dwell among the mortals who love one another. His Spirit who fell upon the Gentile, is the Sprit who breaks every window to make doors through which we enter others’ lives in love and invites them into ours, and through which we all enter the Temple of the Lord who Himself is the Temple of God, and enter the Kingdom of Heaven, where we all will join the Heavenly Feast, praising the Lord, the Lamb of God. And His Spirit who has fallen upon us in baptism, is the Spirit who breaks the door to make a playground for all to play joyfully in God with God, worshiping and praising Him.
That is what the Lord Jesus Christ has come for, and that is what Jesus did, lived, taught, proclaimed, suffered, died, and resurrected for, and that is what the gospel of today is saying to us, “Love one another just as I have loved you.”
To love one another is to make a little hole and a window in the wall between and among us in order to see one another’s faces in which God is present. To love one another is to break the window to make a door to enter one another in and with whom God has decide to dwell. To love one another is to break the door to make a new garden where all His people walk and play and live together with Him the Devine Gardener.
We are not called to build the wall and construct the Tower of Babel of self-esteem and self-centeredness and human greed and exclusion and any kind of discrimination, but to deconstruct them all so that live together, play together, worship together and pray together in God, and under the reign of God.
We pray with the Lord’s prayer, saying, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven.” Then, “What is the God’s will?” God’s will has shown already to us through and in the life and ministry of Jesus the Lord. And today’s gospel tells us in summary what God’s will is. “Love one another as I love you all.” Yes, love one another is God’s will.
“Who was I to be able to hinder God, to hinder God’s ministry of love and mercy?”
God in Jesus Christ has deconstruct the obstacles and the walls that we human beings did build between us, among us, not to come to others, not others come to us because they are different with me, with us, with our thoughts, our language, our culture, our ethnicity, with our political view, even with our belief. To love one another. It is the way of the cross of the Lord calling us to walk together. It is the great mission of God calling us to participate in, and it is the will of God that we pray every day, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as in heaven.”
God has decided to dwell in the mortals, human beings, who love one another as God loves us. The Temple of God is among us who love one another as God loves us. And the door of the Temple of God has opened wide to all through God’s loving us, and the door won’t be closed. “If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” It is giving us a question, “If we refuse to love one another as God loves us, how will the people know we are His disciples, Christians, and how will the Lord know we are His disciples?”
We continually ask, as Christians, “What does it mean to love one another, and who are the Gentile in our midst today, and what does it look like to embody a Christ, and what does it mean to us to pray, saying, ‘Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven’, and what does it mean to follow Jesus as Christians?” It is the Easter season, and yet, we continually ask those questions and answer them and live out the questions and answers continually. Our life of faith in Jesus Christ is to ask those questions continually and answer them continually and live out the questions and answers continually, praying, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven.” Amen.