One of the centurions of the Italica cohort stationed in Caesarea was called Cornelius.
He and the whole of his household were devout and God-fearing, and he gave generously to Jewish causes and prayed constantly to God.
One day at about the ninth hour he had a vision in which he distinctly saw the angel of God come into his house and call out to him, 'Cornelius!'
He stared at the vision in terror and exclaimed, 'What is it, Lord?' The angel answered, 'Your prayers and charitable gifts have been accepted by God.
Now you must send some men to Jaffa and fetch a man called Simon, known as Peter,
who is lodging with Simon the tanner whose house is by the sea.'
When the angel who said this had gone, Cornelius called two of the slaves and a devout soldier of his staff,
told them all that had happened, and sent them off to Jaffa.
Next day, while they were still on their journey and had only a short distance to go before reaching the town, Peter went to the housetop at about the sixth hour to say his prayers.
He felt hungry and was looking forward to his meal, but before it was ready he fell into a trance
and saw heaven thrown open and something like a big sheet being let down to earth by its four corners;
it contained every kind of animal, reptile and bird.
A voice then said to him, 'Now, Peter, kill and eat!'
But Peter answered, 'Certainly not, Lord; I have never yet eaten anything profane or unclean.'
Again, a second time, the voice spoke to him, 'What God has made clean, you have no right to call profane.'
This was repeated three times, and then suddenly the container was drawn up to heaven again.
Peter was still at a loss over the meaning of the vision he had seen, when the men sent by Cornelius arrived. They had asked where Simon's house was and they were now standing at the door,
calling out to know if the Simon known as Peter was lodging there.
While Peter's mind was still on the vision, the Spirit told him, 'Look! Some men have come to see you.
Hurry down, and do not hesitate to return with them; it was I who told them to come.'
Peter went down and said to them, 'I am the man you are looking for; why have you come?'
They said, 'The centurion Cornelius, who is an upright and God-fearing man, highly regarded by the entire Jewish people, was told by God through a holy angel to send for you and bring you to his house and to listen to what you have to say.'
So Peter asked them in and gave them lodging. Next day, he was ready to go off with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Jaffa.
They reached Caesarea the following day, and Cornelius was waiting for them. He had asked his relations and close friends to be there,
and as Peter reached the house Cornelius went out to meet him, fell at his feet and did him reverence.
But Peter helped him up. 'Stand up,' he said, ' after all, I am only a man!'
Talking together they went in to meet all the people assembled there,
and Peter said to them, 'You know it is forbidden for Jews to mix with people of another race and visit them; but God has made it clear to me that I must not call anyone profane or unclean.
That is why I made no objection to coming when I was sent for; but I should like to know exactly why you sent for me.'
Cornelius replied, 'At this time three days ago I was in my house saying the prayers for the ninth hour, when I suddenly saw a man in front of me in shining robes.
He said, "Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your charitable gifts have not been forgotten by God;
so now you must send to Jaffa and fetch Simon known as Peter who is lodging in the house of Simon the tanner, by the sea."
So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Here we all are, assembled in front of you to hear all the instructions God has given you.'
Then Peter addressed them, 'I now really understand', he said, 'that God has no favourites,
but that anybody of any nationality who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
'God sent his word to the people of Israel, and it was to them that the good news of peace was brought by Jesus Christ -- he is the Lord of all.
You know what happened all over Judaea, how Jesus of Nazareth began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism.
God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil.
Now we are witnesses to everything he did throughout the countryside of Judaea and in Jerusalem itself: and they killed him by hanging him on a tree,
yet on the third day God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen,
not by the whole people but only by certain witnesses that God had chosen beforehand. Now we are those witnesses -- we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead-
and he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people and to bear witness that God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead.
It is to him that all the prophets bear this witness: that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.'
While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit came down on all the listeners.
Jewish believers who had accompanied Peter were all astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on gentiles too,
since they could hear them speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God. Peter himself then said,
'Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these people, now they have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?'
He then gave orders for them to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterwards they begged him to stay on for some days.
The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) is a Catholic translation of the Bible published in 1985. The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) has become the most widely used Roman Catholic Bible outside of the United States. It has the imprimatur of Cardinal George Basil Hume.
Like its predecessor, the Jerusalem Bible, the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) version is translated "directly from the Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic." The 1973 French translation, the Bible de Jerusalem, is followed only "where the text admits to more than one interpretation." Introductions and notes, with some modifications, are taken from the Bible de Jerusalem.
Source: The Very Reverend Dom (Joseph) Henry Wansbrough, OSB, MA (Oxon), STL (Fribourg), LSS (Rome), a monk of Ampleforth Abbey and a biblical scholar. He was General Editor of the New Jerusalem Bible. "New Jerusalem Bible, Regular Edition", pg. v.
Ten Commandments | Books of the Bible | Buy a Bible
Reading 1, Sirach 17:1-15:
The Lord fashioned human beings from the earth, to consign them back to it. He gave them so many ... Psalm, Psalms 103:13-14, 15-16, 17-18:
As tenderly as a father treats his children, so Yahweh treats those who fear him; he knows of what ... Gospel, Mark 10:13-16:
People were bringing little children to him, for him to touch them. The disciples scolded them, ... Read More