Sunday, June 29, 2014

Something Old, Something New

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. This morning in Rome 44 Archbishops received the pallium, symbol of their office. Today is also a time for us to reflect on the unique role that each of these Apostles played in the Church.

Simon and Saul began their lives as two rather ordinary jewish men of their time. Saul was probably the more educated of the two. And yet, he began his life not as a follower of Jesus but a persecutor of his disciples.

Both were transformed by their encounter with Christ. Simon became Peter, the Rock on which the Church would be built. Saul would be transformed in to Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. Peter is the foundation. Paul is forever the missionary, constantly in motion.

On another level these two saints reminds of the constant tension with which we live in the Church. When I was younger I was foolish enough to believe that tension was a bad thing. I confused tension with discord. One day while restringing a guitar I had a moment of insight. I realized that not only is tension not bad; it is absolutely necessary for some of my favorite musical instruments: the violin,the cello, the harp, even the piano. They all require precise amounts of tension, too little tension and the sound is flat, too much and it is irritatingly sharp. But when the tension is perfectly balanced we have music.

In the Church too we must always be searching for that perfect balance. On the one hand we must remain constantly planted firmly on the Rock, the foundation that Jesus established in Peter. If we detach ourselves from that foundation, we can no longer call ourselves the Church. On the other hand, we must constantly remain missionaries, moving forward, communicating the good news in ways comprehensible to each new time and place, remembering that between 60 and 93 percent of all communication is non-verbal (depending on whose study you choose).

We must constantly be both old and new, built on the Petrine foundation, while carrying out the Pauline mission. Like string instruments, staying in tune requires constant attention. Left to sit they all go flat.

Tension in the Church is not a problem. Go back to the beginning and you will see it has always existed. It is the way we were constructed.

Today as we celebrate Sts. Peter and Paul let us pray that through their intercession, the Pope, Archbishops, Bishops, Pastors, and Lay leaders in our Church may be constantly attuned to the voice of the Holy Spirit so strike that perfect balance that will cause the Good News of Jesus Christ to resound throughout our world.