“The Gospel’s journey in the world, which Saint Luke recounts in the Acts of the Apostles, is accompanied by God’s great creativity, which is manifested in an amazing way,” Pope Francis said October 16, 2019. “He wants His children to overcome every particularism to open themselves to the universality of salvation.”
The Holy Father’s comments came during his General Audience in St. Peter’s Square as he continued his catecheses on the Acts of the Apostles. He stressed God’s desire that His people open themselves to the “universality of salvation” because God’s salvation is for everyone. In fact, they should adopt a style of living together that “transforms every interpersonal relationship into an experience of fraternity”.
Pope Francis cited the experience of Peter, who had a remarkable vision while praying, something the Pope called a “divine provocation”. In the vision Peter was shown all sorts of animals he could eat, some of them unclean under Jewish law. Peter was disturbed, but the Pope explained God’s response.
“Then the voice replied forcefully: ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common’ (Acts 10:15). With this event, the Lord wants Peter to no longer evaluate events and persons according to the categories of pure and impure, but that he learn to go beyond, to look at the person and the intentions of his heart,” the Pope said. “What makes man impure, in fact, does not come from outside but only from inside, from the heart (Cf. Mark 7:21). Jesus said it clearly.”
After the vision, Peter visited the home of Cornelius, a centurion, who is god-fearing but not Jewish. He prayed often and helped the poor. But he was a pagan.
“In that house of pagans, Peter preached Christ crucified and risen and the forgiveness of sin to anyone who believes in Him. And while Peter was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and his relatives,” the Pope recalled. “And Peter baptized him in the name of Jesus Christ (Cf. Acts 10:48).
“After the encounter with Cornelius, Peter is freer of himself and more in communion with God and with others, because he saw God’s will in the action of the Holy Spirit. So he could understand, therefore, that Israel’s election is not a recompense for merits, but the sign of the free call to be the mediation of the divine blessing among the pagan peoples.”
The Holy Father’s Full Commentary