By Todd Langis
This June marks the second anniversary of All Inclusive Ministries! You are invited to participate in our All Inclusive Eucharistic Celebration as we come together on the eve of the Vigil Mass of Saints Peter and Paul—founders of the ancient Church.
This feast is almost entirely devoted to St. Peter— the first Pope and leader of the Apostles. After the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost Peter preached the Gospel in Judea but was cast into prison. Nevertheless, he was miraculously delivered by an angel and established his See first at Antioch, and then finally at Rome, making it the centre of the Church.
In the first reading Peter cures the crippled man, not in his own name, but in the name of Christ. It is not to be our own work that we do, but the work of Christ through us. Though Peter and John do not have money, they share what they have—the power of God! We, like them, are only truly empowered through grace.
In the second reading can you imagine what it was like for St Paul, who before his conversion was violently persecuting the Church of God and was trying to destroy it? Though he was responsible for much of the early persecution of the Church, it was not until after his conversion on the road to Damascus that he became a fervent preacher and teacher and advocate of the Faith. Try and imagine for a moment how it must have felt for him, knowing what he had done prior to his revelation of Jesus Christ. What feelings or memories does this scene give rise to in you? Perhaps sorrow, remorse or even resentment as many lesbian and gay people of faith know what it is like being persecuted. Though this is often sadly the case, are we open to receive the grace to pray for those who persecute us?
“As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
In the Gospel the words of Christ to Peter indicate the dignity bestowed on him, and also the great responsibility of Jesus’ command to: “Feed my sheep.” Even though Jesus foretells Peter’s martyrdom (John 21:18-19), Peter must tend the flock of Christ. Can you imagine what Peter, a Jewish Christian, would have thought risking his life by taking the “keys of the Kingdom” to non-Jews? Paul had to reprove Peter for trying to impose Jewish practices, such as circumcision, onto Christians who were not Jewish (Galatians 2: 3-5, 14).
Paul also reminds us of the inclusiveness of our faith in a formula that was likely used at baptism which expresses racial, social-economic, and sexual equality and inclusivity in Christ: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28). If it was revolutionary for the Apostles to take the Gospel to the Gentiles, how much more would it be to take the Gospel to our lesbian, gay, sisters and brothers who have felt alienated or unwelcomed? Who are those who need further conversion to better appreciate this radical inclusivity?
God loves all people and calls us all into one family. May God grant us the grace to persevere toward a time when all the children of God participate fully in all aspects of life within the Church and society.