Grace to you!
There are many things unique about you and everyone else. Your color, voice, the choices you make, your thought process, your family, and your lineage are unique. Though others may share them, your attitudes, beliefs, and values are also unique. All of us carry our uniqueness everywhere we go. It is our identity.
From a sociological point of view, those who connect with your story connect with your uniqueness. Erase that uniqueness, and you erase some memory of you in the minds of people.
Suppose you don’t have any identity, any uniqueness or any history? Although this is impossible, if it were to happen, you would be gone like the wind in history. No one would ever remember you. Such would be appalling.
Observe what happened in many of the territories decimated by ISIS. Why did those heartless terrorists knockdown sacred images, icons, and statues? Why bulldoze churches and temples?
What ISIS did by destroying sacred places, was what many leaders did in the past against a conquered nation. They pulled down their iconic buildings or architecture. By so doing, they destroyed some of the physical reminders of a people’s history. Probably, the intent was to destroy their history, their memory, and their identity.
There is a strategic relevance to destroying people's history. When history is twisted or ruptured, the succeeding generations wouldn’t know their history or from where they come. When this is done effectively, the people of those generations wouldn't have a full sense of their identity. It is a travesty of justice and truth.
When God delivered the people of Israel from the land of captivity, we read that God commanded them to do an annual “ceremony of remembrance.” Deuteronomy 26 documents how they were to celebrate this feast.
Mainly, they were to narrate their history as a people. "And you shall make response before the Lord your God, ‘A wandering Aramean was my father; and he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous” (Deuteronomy 26:5).
Tradition is memory. Sacred Tradition is the memory of God’s special relationship with His people revealed in Christ and witnessed by the apostles and their successors and the numerous faithful who share in life of Christ. This memory is constantly alive years, even after the resurrection of the Lord. Erasing that memory by discontinuity with the past, as some theologians and philosophers want many to do, is discontinuing the identity of God's people. Such a discontinuity isn't right.
Know this: Whenever we celebrate the lives of the saints, we celebrate an aspect of our history as God's holy people redeemed in Christ. Today is an example of that memory. We celebrate the lives of two apostles of the Lord called the princes of the Church, Saints Peter, and Paul. Their stories are fascinating.
The Lord Jesus Christ called each of them in different ways. Peter by the Sea of Galilee and Paul on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians. They were two different personalities who drank the cup of martyrdom in Rome—Peter by crucifixion upside down (AD 64), and Paul by beheading (AD 67).
We keep the memory of their life and testimony of faith alive. We continuously celebrate our leaders' lives, the lives of the saints, and models in faith because we believe that we are in communion with them. Those who die in Christ live on as the Scripture says (see Romans 6:8; 2 Timothy 2:11). It’s our memory. Let's not erase this memory. Never destroy your identity.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu.
[June 29, Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.