United In Faith We Are Strong

peter-paul-unityIn a Peanuts cartoon Lucy demanded that Linus change TV channel, threatening him with her fist if he didn’t.

“What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?” asks Linus.

“These five fingers,” says Lucy.

“Individually they’re nothing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold.”

“Which channel do you want?” asks Linus. Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, “Why can’t you guys get organized like that?”

In unity there is strength.  This weekend we celebrate the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul—two great pillars of our Catholic faith.  Peter and Paul were quite different in their backgrounds, yet they were united in faith.

Who were Peter and Paul?

Both of them were Jewish, that is true.  But Peter was a blue-collared fisherman, while Paul was a highly educated Pharisee.

Peter was called personally by Jesus, was made head of the apostles by Jesus, and given the keys of the kingdom.

Paul, on the other hand, probably never met Jesus face to face. He once was a persecutor of the Church. His conversion came about through a vision on the road to Damascus that left him blind. His inspiration and his style of presenting the gospel came from visions and charismatic experiences.

Sometimes, Peter and Paul did not see eye to eye.  For instance, Paul once had a public disagreement with Peter on whether Jewish Christians could eat together with Gentile Christians. (Galatians 2).

However, if Peter and Paul did not agree in life, they did agree in death. Both suffered the same kind of death, martyrdom, in the same city, Rome, at about the same time, 64-67 A.D.

 Two pillars of the Church

The early Church recognized Peter and Paul as the two pillars of the Church of Christ. This is depicted in an ancient icon with Peter on the right and Paul on the left, each extending a hand with which they bear up the Church.

By placing two of them together in one icon, united in lifting up the Church, the Church is sending a message to all her children that they likewise should be united, in spite of individual and local differences.  We are all called to build up the one Church of God.

Peter and Paul were two different men, who had different ideas.  But when it came to living their lives for Jesus Christ—they were united as one.  They professed one Lord, one baptism, one faith.  And in this unity, they provided the strong foundation of our church.

Strong in unity

Saints Peter and Paul exemplify to us that even if we are different and even if we have disagreements, we can still live and work together in the Church.

We can find reconciliation with one another through God’s grace and love.

Together we are better.  Together, united in one faith, we are strong.

 

Did Jesus Have to Go Back to Heaven?

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A number of years ago I was teaching a 2nd grade class about how Jesus suffered and died on the Cross and how all His disciples were really sad.

But when Jesus rose from the dead all His disciples were overjoyed.

Then for forty days Jesus appeared to His disciples and taught them about the Kingdom of God.

Jesus’ friends never wanted Him to leave. But the time came for Jesus to leave his friends and go back to His Father in heaven.

There was a boy who was more innocent than the others, and was really getting into the emotions of Gospel scene, and was disturbed that Jesus would leave his friends. He blurted out: “But why did Jesus have to go back to heaven? Why couldn’t He just stay with His friends?” [Read more...]

Mary Help of Christians

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On May 24 all around the Salesian world the Salesian family celebrates the feast day of Mary Help of Christians.

“The Help of Christians” is the title St. John Bosco chose to venerate the Blessed Mother.

There have been certain times and places in history when communities of Christians have experienced the power of Mary’s intervention in most dramatic ways.  [Read more...]

Lifestyles of the Holy and Heavenly

 

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Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous – Remember that TV series?

Well, no matter how extravagant the lifestyle shown on that show, it does not compare to what is being prepared for us in heaven!

Jesus tells us in the gospel:

In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.”  John 14:2-3

Jesus Himself is preparing a place for you and me.  Now, would you think that the Eternal Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Savior of the world, and Lord of Life would skimp on anything for us whom He died and rose for?

A couple other translations of John 14:2-3 sound like this:

“In my Father’s house there are many rooms, and I am going to prepare a place for you.”

“In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.”

I personally like the last one.  Imagine, there is a mansion waiting for you and me in the Father’s house! [Read more...]

A Mother’s Day Reflection

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Happy Mother’s Day!

I like to ask youngsters:  “Who knows you the best?”

Of course, they often like to give me the answer they know a priest would like to hear. They say: “God.”

But I press on saying they are right, but who on earth, which human being, knows you the best?  Who knows what you kind of cereal you like?  Who knows when you are not feeling well?  Who knows every freckle on your body?

The youngsters ponder a while, then most of the time someone will say “Mom.” [Read more...]