Reflection for Saints Peter & Paul Sunday

My dear Friends:

Today, we are celebrating the feast of Saints Peter and Paul! Two men, fiercely strong in their faith; passionate, in their love for God; visionary, in their desire to make Jesus known…and, often determinedly entrenched in their understanding of faith and its traditions. Both of their souls burned with a furnace-like, evangelising zeal. However, they were two very different characters and personalities!

Peter’s mission/remit was to the Jews. Paul’s mission was to us, the gentiles! Peter believed that anyone who wanted to become a follower of Jesus, should first become a Jew, then a Jesus Follower. There was a raging debate that any male who wanted to be a follower of Jesus, should first be circumcised according to the rites of Jewish custom. Paul sidestepped this potentially, ‘inconvenient’ prerequisite with ‘circumcision of the spirit’! They were certainly men of vision.However, although they were looking in the same direction, their view was through differing lenses!

Passion for God is a passion which should hollowthe soul (just as a woodcarver scoops out wood to create a space in a carving)! This sometimes involves a painful digging into the dross of the ego, a dross which can make us hard, brittle, and ruthless. This hollowing to create a sacred space can then facilitate a hallowing (making sacred or holy) of the soul. This enables us to see through Christ’s eyes. It empowers us to see God in the other. It opens the eyes of the soul to respond to that sacred presence, no matter what the circumstances, with Love, Respect, and Reverence.Gibran describes the dangers of an ego-fuelled passion when he writes: ‘passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction’. Tragically, also, it often sears those around us, creating disharmony, woundedness and pain. As we have seen around our world, this is when ‘great atrocities are committed in God’s name’.

I believe Peter and Paul’s rock-solid faith, and the diverse ways in which their lives were lived out with evangelical passion…their apostolic vision; their titanium strength and determination…indicated that each one of them was convinced that hisapproach was the vital, and ‘his’ the only approach, to achieve God’s sacred mission! So, although they loved each other, they were often at loggerheads! After 43 years in the priesthood, I have the feeling that the same could be said of all Faith Communities: there are dimensions of Peter and Paul in each one of us.

I think the challenge for all of us, blessed with the richness of our diverse ethnicities, cultures, and religious traditions, that makes us a Faith Family and Community, can be summed up in three words: Love, Respect and Reverence. This is a dimension of the Eucharist which fuses us into Oneness. The is a onenesswhich can be celebrated and lived out in our differences and diversity.

Burning with evangelical zeal and sacred passion, how can we, blessed with our cultural, religious and traditional differences, and personal histories, achieve this oneness? Essentially, this is a journey of dialogue in which people can acknowledge there is a sameness of goals, yet a separation caused by a number of differences. It is not a question of trying to drag the other person into my way of thinking, but reverently listening, respectfully responding, and gently sustaining the differences in an environment of tolerance, cooperation and understanding. Peter and Paul resolved their differences by doing everything for the Greater Glory of God. Their hollowing and hallowingwas also a journey of love, reverence and respect for the ‘other’.

I think Kahlil Gibran sums up this sacred, and passionate quest when he wrote, ‘work with Love, it is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart’.

Remember me as loving you,

Fr. Antony

The parish is part of the Diocese of Portsmouth. Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust registered charity 246871.

© 2019• Immaculate Conception Church, Portswood, Southampton

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