Grace to you!
There are many things unique about you and about everyone else. Each person is unigue. Our color, our voice, the choices we make, our thought process, our family and our lineage are unique. We carry our uniqueness everywhere we go. It is our identity.
From a sociological point of view, those who connect with our story connect with our uniqueness. Erase that uniqueness and we erase some memory about us 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 and no one would ever remember you. Such would be appalling.
Observe what’s happening in the territories decimated by ISIS. Why do those heartless terrorists knock down sacred images, icons and statues? Why bulldoze churches and temples?
What ISIS is currently doing by destroying sacred places, was what many leaders did in the past against a conquered nation. They pulled down their iconic buildings or architecture and 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 a people’s history. When a history is twisted or ruptured, the succeeding generations wouldn’t know their history or from where they come. When this is effectively done, the people of those generations wouldn’t have a full sense of their identity. This 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 this feast was to be done.
Essentially, 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. This memory is constantly alive years even after the Resurrection of Jesus. Erasing that memory by discontinuity with the past, as some theologians and philosophers want many to do, is discontinuing with 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 of the apostles of Jesus who are 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 constantly celebrate the lives of our leaders, the lives of the saints, 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 destroy this memory. Never destroy your identity.
Saints Pater and Paul, pray for us.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu.
[June 29 2017 Feast of Saints Peter and Paul]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.