Gospel Reflection for
The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
St Peter Paschal Keeps First Things First
Putting others before ourselves is so central to Christianity that during the Last Supper Jesus himself declared it to be the identifying mark of his followers:
“It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognize you as my disciples” (John 13:35).
One particularly beautiful example is from the life of St Peter Paschal, an outstanding scholar and bishop from the High Middle Ages. He lived in Spain, which was ruled by Muslims, and where Christians were denied civil rights and often enslaved. He preached courageously in order to convert Muslims to Christianity, and was so successful that the Islamic King of Grenada had him ambushed and imprisoned. His friends and colleagues heard about it and sent him a large sum of money as ransom, so that he could buy his freedom. But instead of spending it for his own deliverance, he spent it in freeing a number of women and children who had also been imprisoned for their faith, and who were on the verge of converting to Islam just so they could be set free.
It is said that our Lord was so pleased with this act of Christian charity that he came in person to thank him. One morning a boy dressed as a slave came to serve the saint’s Mass. Afterwards, the saint asked the boy some questions from the Catechism, which he usually did. The little boy answered so correctly and easily that St Peter Paschal was astonished and asked who he was. The Child answered, “I am Jesus,” and showed him the wounds in his hands and feet. Then he said, “As you in your love have willingly condemned yourself for the sake of my people, and have given liberty to them, I have made myself your prisoner.”
And that’s the truth: when we put others first, we draw closer to Christ, which alone can give us the meaning we yearn for.
[Information for this Illustration was taken from “The Catechism in Examples” by Rev. D. Chisholm and www.sqpn.com]
(From ePriest – October 2021)