Evangelizing through the Catholic Arts

The Good News is Meant for Everyone!

Good News In today’s reading from Acts 11:1-18, the Holy Spirit instructs Saint Peter, via a vision, to eat the food of the Gentiles. Per Leviticus 11:1-47, this type of food had been considered unclean. Any good Jew would refrain from eating such food. Yet, God had different thoughts. It was time to open the door to salvation to all. By telling Saint Peter to eat the Gentile food, He was telling Saint Peter that what man puts in his mouth is not as important as what is spoken from man’s mouth. It was time to share the Good News with those beyond the Jewish faith, specifically the Gentiles.

As humans, we are social beings, meant to engage in social activity with each other. The breaking of bread together is one of the most advantageous means of engaging with each other, as well as setting the scene for effective evangelization. With the Good News meant for everyone, Saint Peter came to realize this in his vision.

If we go back to Leviticus 11:1-47, we see many food restrictions. Theologians theorize that these restrictions were originally noted for purposes of hygiene. Yet, when documented within the book of Leviticus, the writers attributed moral content to the food restrictions, stating that if the Israelites were to eat of these foods, they would be unclean (sinful). Theologians further theorize that to retain the purity and holiness of the Jewish religion, the moral nature of the infraction provided impetus for compliance.

What makes an act “moral”?

How might you know if something is moral? What is a moral act?

A moral act can have either positive or negative intentions and consequences. We define a moral act as: 1)  a deliberative action to do something or not to do something, 2). containing moral content, and 3) personal.

Let’s take some examples to see the difference.

Example #1: Breathing – Is it a deliberative choice – no. Does it have moral content – no. Is it personal – yes. Since all three answers are not yes, it is not a moral act.

Example #2: Choking someone to death – Is it a deliberative choice – yes. Does it have moral content – yes, it violates the fifth commandment. Is it personal – yes. All three answers are yes, so choking someone to death is a moral act (some might call the act immoral, but nonetheless, it is a bad moral act).

Example #3: A teenager decides to give birth to her unborn baby: Is a deliberate choice – yes. Does it have moral content – yes, the preservation of life and adherence to the fifth commandment. Is it personal – yes. This is a good moral act.

The Good News for Everyone

Now, let’s go back and test the eating of restricted food, per Leviticus. Is it a deliberative choice – yes. Does it have moral content – no, it does not break any of the ten commandments. Is it personal – yes. Because all three questions could not be answered with a yes, the eating of foods as noted within Leviticus do not connote a moral conundrum.

Saint Peter had to weigh through all the information, determine the appropriateness of the moral attributes noted within Leviticus and came to the decision to abide by what he learned in the vision. Thus, he and the Apostles expanded their outreach to the Gentiles, and beyond, because the Good News is meant for everyone.

This post also appears on Association of Catholic Women Bloggers, and Top Catholic Blogs

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