On this blessed 5th Sunday of Pentecost, our Maronite Church celebrates the Feast of St Peter and St Paul who are also known as the Pillars of the Church or of Christianity. Two people, from two different walks of life, each with their own weakness or sin, each with a unique experience of Christ and a conversion story.
Peter, an Apostle from the 12, experienced the Lord in his public ministry, in His passion, death and Resurrection. Peter, a weak man, denies the Lord three times. This same Peter, in today’s Gospel proclaims that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” It is this same Peter to whom Christ gives greatest responsibility: the building of His Church and the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Paul, a Roman citizen and a Jewish Pharisee, experienced the Risen Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul, a great attacker of the faith and a persecutor of the early Christians, becomes a great defender of the faith and a protector of the early Church. It is this same Paul, whose writings and letters form part of the Church teachings and are read during liturgies.
But why are these two Saints celebrated together? What do they teach you and I? Well, firstly, both of them seem so different and indeed they are. Peter and Paul are like the North and South pole of a magnet. But there is wisdom in the saying that opposites attract. This force that brings them both together is known as Christ.
Peter and Paul, undoubtedly had differing opinions, especially in the establishment of the early Church. One of the greatest debates recorded in Scripture is that of the membership into the community of Christ: did one have to be circumcised in order to be a Christian?
In our own lives, opposition is healthy, a difference in opinion opens doors for different ways of doing things, and it opens doors for dialogue. It opens doors for increased learning and for progress. However, we must be respectful and accept differences as part of God’s unique plan. Taking from the example of Peter and Paul, when there were disputes, they came together in a spirit of love and understanding. They called a meeting and with respect for One who is greater than they were, they discussed and from their discussion, a solution or an answer was born.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all teachers and students a safe, enjoyable and well-deserved holiday. Make sure that you take this time to relax and re-energise, not only physically but also spiritually. Remember that just because you are on holidays, it does not mean you are on holidays from Mass.
Also a big thank you to our Seniors Committee who celebrate a regular Mass followed by lunch and activities for our beloved seniors. May God reward you abundantly.
Last but not least, a special thank you to our Heaven on Earth committee and volunteers. The work that you do in silence is seen by our heavenly Father and I am sure is also appreciated by those that you serve. In the cold of the winter, you bring physical warmth to the homeless and needy and also an emotional warmth in the love and care that you show towards them.