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Monday, November 17, 2014

Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts Peter and Paul

"Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things." Lk 19:45

For a millennium the basilicas of St Peter's and St Paul outside the walls, although miles apart, were connected by a covered colonnade, a visual sign that Peter who represented the foundation of the church in Jerusalem and Paul who went as missioner to the nations, had roles that were intimately tied to one another.  Every community or institution that wants to have an impact in the world must have both a vision out of which it operates, and a commitment to spread its message, its good news, to everyone.

Another necessary aspect of this bilateral identity, which some call roots and branches, is its ability to address the major issues that its people confront everyday.  What for instance has the church to say to the people who are organizing against gun violence or for immigration reform?  Whether or not you support these initiatives, it is impossible for people of faith to ignore them.  They remind us that Jesus came to spread the Good News of God's love to all, and that he begged us to work against violence and for peace and justice in a world where too many live in fear and hiding.

St Paul knew that his experience as a gospel missionary would be resisted by some and rejected by others, but he did not hesitate to speak the truth to Christians no matter how dangerous it was to him personally. The life and growth of the early church was more important than his own safety, making it necessary for him to insist that those hearing about Jesus in the gentile world should not be forced to become Jews first. Isn't Pope Francis doing the same thing today when he reminds us: "Don't proselytize; respect others' beliefs.We can inspire others through witness?" (1)

Today, pray for the gift of an open spirit.

What most helps you hear a difficult or challenging message?

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