The Departure of St. Cornelius the Centurion
On this day, St. Cornelius the centurion, departed. He was a captain over one hundred soldiers in Caesarea of Palestine and he worshipped the stars.
When he heard the Apostles preaching and saw the miracles performed at their hands, which were above and beyond any human power or pagan gods, he was astonished, confused, and he started to doubt his gods. He forsook the worship of the stars and opened his heart to the Lord through prayers, fasting and merciful deeds. In his prayers he repeated, "O Lord God, I am confused in my knowledge of You, direct me and guide me to You." The Lord had compassion on him, accepted his prayers and his compassionate deeds, and sent an angel to announce to him that his prayers and alms had ascended before God and had been accepted by Him. He ordered him to send men to the city of Joppa, to bring St. Peter the Apostle, who was lodging with Simon the tanner and who would tell him what he must do. Cornelius did as the Lord said and had St. Peter brought to his house.
As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshipped him. But Peter lifted him up saying, "Stand up; I myself am also a man." When Peter went in the house, he found many Gentiles who had come together. Then he said to them, "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or to go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore, I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then for what reason have you sent for me?" So Cornelius said,
"Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour, I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send, therefore, to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.' So I sent to you immediately and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God."
Peter then opened his mouth and said, "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation, whoever fears Him and works righteousness, is accepted by Him." Then he preached to them of Jesus Christ, the Lord of all, and explained to them the mystery of His incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and the workings of miracles in His Name. Cornelius, his household, all his men and most of those who were with him, believed and were baptized in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Straightaway the Holy Spirit descended upon them. (Acts 10)
Afterwards, Cornelius left the military service and followed the Apostles. St. Peter then ordained him a Bishop over the city of Caesarea of Palestine. He went there and proclaimed the Name of Christ, showing them the error of worshipping idols. Their minds were illuminated with the knowledge of God and they believed in Him. He strengthened them with the signs and miracles he performed before them and he baptized them all and among them was Demetrius the Governor. Then he departed in peace and received the crown of glory of the apostles.
His prayers be with us. Amen.
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