The Feast of St Peter and St Paul reminds us of the energy and urgency of a rapidly growing Church that necessitated the human cooperation with the will of God.
Peter was the rock with the awesome responsibility of leading the Church. The fisherman was chosen from a humble background with the human weakness of denial, and the impulsive streak of spontaneity, yet chosen for the institutional foundation of leadership. “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church” (Matthew 16.18). The Lord builds his Church on the rock of a modest and unassuming man to elevate what is lowly and can be built and moulded into the newness of the Lord. Furthermore in the lucid and thorough description of the life of St Paul we are reminded of that gripping and monumental encounter of God’s riveting desire to stand with the” chaos of human behaviour and basically say in modern terms, WAKE UP! The urgent and humane conversation Jesus has with Saul (who becomes Paul) is the questioning conversation Jesus has with our world today. Saul! Saul!” the voice said “Why are you opposing me?” Words that hover around the world today, not “Saul Saul,“ but “World World why are you opposing me?”
Paul’s inner conversion is powerfully and explicitly revealed in today’s second reading to Timothy, “The Lord stood by me and gave me the power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.” (2nd Letter to Timothy 4:6-18, 17-18).
Inner conversion is on-going because life is a continuously unfolding human experience.
In the words of Pope Francis, broadcast last Monday as part of the BBC Rethink Programme on the Today Programme, taken from a longer interview he gave to his biographer Austen Ivereigh, he challenges us to rethink poverty.
I quote from him.
“Every crisis contains both danger and opportunity. Today I believe we have to slow down our rate of production and consumption and to learn to understand and contemplate the natural world. We need to reconnect with our real surroundings. This is the opportunity for conversion.
I see early signs of an economy that is more human. But let us not lose our memory once all this is past, let us not file it away and go back to where we were. This is the time to take the decisive step, to move from using and misusing nature to contemplating it. We have lost the contemplative dimension; we have to get it back.
And speaking of contemplation, I’d like to dwell on one point.
This is the moment to see the poor. Jesus says we will have the poor with us always, and it’s true. They are a reality we cannot deny. But the poor are hidden, because poverty is bashful.
In Rome recently, in the midst of the quarantine, a policeman said to a man: “You can’t be on the street, go home.” The response was: “I have no home. I live in the street.”
There is such a large number of people who are on the margins. And we don’t see them, because poverty is bashful. They have become part of the landscape; they are things.”
End of quote.
The voice of the successor of St Peter challenges us all today. Let us be inspired by St Paul. Change is possible for everyone!
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