[Recall] the ‘new commandment’ which Jesus gave his followers: ‘Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.' This new commandment means unconditional love for all people. Love, with no questions asked. Love, for people who may look differently, talk differently, pray differently, and even more noticeably, eat differently - than us.
Where do we see such signs that the Kingdom of Heaven is breaking into our world? Perhaps in one of the biggest headline stories of the past week - Pope Francis’ visiting the 50,000 refugees and migrants stranded in Greece, and taking a dozen of them into his Vatican home. A Vatican spokesman described this symbolic act as a ‘gesture of welcome’. As many commentators noted, this was also an expression of ‘gesture politics of the most powerful kind, designed to discomfort a continent that has lost sight of its core values’, where bigotry, nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise.
You may have heard it reported that the Pope said that every Catholic parish should take in a refugee family. And hearing that, maybe you feel grateful that you’re not a Catholic. Or maybe you’re inspired to respond positively to this invitation to embrace the ‘other’, to open your arms and share your faith - and your food - with them.
- from my talk today, based on the astonishing story in Acts 11, Peter's funny picnic.