The encounter with Christ

My primary school was named SS Peter and Paul, so the date of today's feast has been as familiar to me, for most of my life, as an old friend's birthday. The men the day celebrates less so; beyond knowing the bare facts of their lives I only started getting to know them as an adult. I came to know them as fallible, limited men: Peter impulsive, impetuous and blundering; Paul impatient and temperamental; but both of them also big-hearted, generous and utterly, completely transformed by the love of - and their love for - Christ. Both of them, to quote Paul, filled with the utter fullness of God [and] the power at work within us able to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine (Eph 3 19-20)... both of them giving me hope, when tempted to dwell on my own fallibility and failings. 

As Pope Francis said on Twitter today: At the heart of the story of Peter and Paul is not their own gifts and abilities, but the encounter with Christ that changed their lives. They experienced a love that healed and set them free, and because of that, they became apostles and ministers of freedom for others.

Ah yes, the encounter with Christ... The other day I saw a tweet which unexpectedly catapulted me back to May 2003, and my 30-days retreat just before my perpetual vows. I recalled sitting in Peter's boat with him, musing on this extraordinary man - this extraordinary Love - which had overwhelmed and taken over our entire lives, calling and sending us out of ourselves, and whatever had hitherto been "normal".

The same extraordinary Love which overwhelmed and overthrew Paul, changing his life - changing him - irrevocably... The same extraordinary Love which, day in, day out, longs to transform each one of us, if we will allow him...