Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter
(Acts 11:19-26; John 10:22-33)
In 1947 Archbishop Joseph Ritter of St. Louis ordered all Catholic schools of the city to accept African-Americans. Many white Catholic parents opposed the order and threatened to sue the Church. The archbishop responded by declaring that any Catholic who took part in the lawsuit would be excommunicated. He understood better than most that the Church is an assembly for all people of faith. The first reading today shows the Church integrating different peoples at an early stage of its development.
Although there are prior instances of gentiles accepting Christ in the Book of Acts, the passage read today presents a new picture. It indicates that many non-Jewish Greeks participate in the Christian community in Antioch. As the members of the community were known as “Christians,” its mixed nature tells what Christianity is about. The new religious movement intends to unite all people in mutual love.
We can be grateful to be part of a Church that resists the tendency to tolerate racism. Unfortunately, the Church’s record is not perfect in this regard. But still we can be certain that Christ died for all people and calls all kinds of people together in his Church. The more we promote racial integration, the truer we are to Christ.