Dear brothers and sisters,
A very joyful and blessed feast to you, as we celebrate the feast of the Holy Chiefs of the Apostles, Peter and Paul. We especially remember our parishioners, Peter, and the three Pauls in our Cardiff and Llanelli communities. May God grant you many, blessed years!
It was a great joy to sing at the kliros in Llanelli today, where Father Luke celebrated Liturgy, and our local faithful gathered to celebrate the feast. I particularly enjoyed seeing those whom I see so seldom now, as Cardiff takes me away from Llanelli whenever I’m not working. It was a particular joy to see Michael, whom I baptised before his departure to Chelyabinsk, several years ago.
In his homily, Father Luke stressed the meeting of very different characters and temperaments in the Apostles Peter and Paul, united in love.
It is only when this Christlike, self-effacing, all-embracing and God-centred love becomes real in our lives that we can come together and live together in our communities. Whereas the combination of so many very different individuals might not work in a spiritual vacuum, within the Church and the bond of Faith, we not only co-exist and complement one another, but flourish.
Tomorrow, we will celebrate the ‘sobor’ of the twelve apostles, and my preferred icon of this synaxis is the Russian icon we call the “Union of Love / Союз любви”, in which the apostles are woven together by the ribbon border around them, which forms a complex knot, with Christ at the centre.
It is precisely by having Christ at the centre of our consciousness and our whole lives, that we can live in peace and unity, each bringing our gifts and strengths: covering one another’s deficiencies and weaknesses; protecting and defending one another; encouraging one another; learning from one another; comforting and supporting one another; feeding and nourishing one another… and if necessary, carrying one another. Within the bond of Christian love we must discover (possibly struggling to do so) and cultivate the humility, patience, mercy, and every good-gift that we need to live together in Christ, as did his Holy Apostles.
It was on this union of spiritual love that the apostolic community was based and in which it existed, and this must be mirrored in our own lives as parishes and communities, centred on Christ, who is Love-Incarnate.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark