They were to very different men working for a common cause. Thomas Jefferson was a Virginia planter: charming, sophisticated, creative, well read in classical literature. John Adams was a Boston lawyer: intense, paid close attention to detail, an excellent public speaker, educated in the ways of government. The visionary Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, the determined advocate Adams promoted its acceptance. They were unlikely friends who worked together for many years before they had a falling out. They conducted two bitter Presidential campaigns against each other. After they retired from public life, they reconciled and corresponded with each other until they both died on July 4, 1826.
Stories like this are the basis of many films: the “Buddy” picture. The same could be said for the apostles Peter and Paul. They were different in many ways. Peter was a relatively uneducated fishermen from the Sea of Galilee: impulsive at times, slow to understand, dependable for the most part, given to grandstanding at times. Paul was a tent maker from a city near the Mediterranean: the student of one of the leading rabbis of his day, zealous, energetic, persuasive, used to mingling with people at the marketplace. They had different experiences with Jesus: Peter was one of the first called, Paul first saw him on the road to Damascus after the Ascension. Paul challenged Peter at Antioch once over a difference of opinion on how Gentile Christians should be treated. Yet both were committed to Christ until death, spreading the Gospel, helping the Church grow, suffering martyrdom in Rome.
We are all different people, with different views, different ways of doing things, different weaknesses. At times getting along with each other is a huge challenge. However Christ calls us together as Church, to pray and work together to proclaim the Kingdom of God. We’re not meant to work in isolation, as if we’re doing unrelated projects with different goals and expectations. We are not called to pray alone in our own way, indifferent to our neighbor praying beside us. Christ intends us to be together in all things. All of us are valuable, all of us have something to contribute, all of us matter no matter who we are.
Like Peter and Paul, we bring different gifts to the same cause, we show different angles of the face of Jesus. We are all part of the Body of Christ, something we are reminded of as we share Christ’s Body and Blood as they did. Community is never easy, cooperation is frequently messy. But we are more than the sum of our parts: we are the presence of Christ.
Note: This replaces the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time on the Liturgical Calendar. It’s in a small class of feasts and solemnities that rank above Sundays in Ordinary Time; we’ll run into another one later this year.
Also want to say hello to one of my old parishes, Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Cole Camp, MO on their feast day. Grace, peace and blessings, my friends.