Social-justice-warrior Catholic or conservative Catholic? Advocate for the oppressed immigrant or for the unborn child? Must the two be at odds? Either of these issues could demand the full dedication of a person. And there are far more than these issues that call out to the Catholic conscience for remedy. Yet, each of us has only so much time, treasure, and talent to give. No individual could possibly do the entire work of the Church on his own. How blest, then, are we that there are tens of millions of Catholics in the United States alone.
There are not two types of Catholic, but only members of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. In this Church, as St. Paul says, “there are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit” (1 Cor 12:4-7). We are each given different gifts and called to different service. Some are moved by the Spirit and equipped with such gifts that enable them to effectively defend the oppressed immigrant. Others are especially well prepared to defend the unborn child. But two such groups of Christians need not be opposed. That one Christian supports the immigrant does not hinder another from supporting the unborn. That it seems otherwise is not a difficulty of the Christian faith, but rather the result of a fallen society.
Today as we remember Sts. Peter and Paul, we reflect on the distinct calls given to each and the friendship between the two. Saint Paul records in Galatians:
“when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter to the circumcised, for the one who worked in Peter for an apostolate to the circumcised worked also in me for the Gentiles, and when they recognized the grace bestowed upon me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas their right hands in partnership, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.” (Gal 2:7-9)
Following the examples of Sts. Peter and Paul, we should recognize the same God motivating the many different works of the Church. Let us imitate the friendship of these two saints whose different missions came from the same Spirit.
Image: El Greco, St. Paul and St. Peter