In Your Midst

Image of the Divine

Dec. 2008

 

 

In this latest addition to the Cathedral’s collection of icons, iconographer Joan Brand-Landkamer has borrowed from the splendid icons of the Coptic Orthodox Church, which are set apart by their simplicity of design and vivid use of color.

         Peter and Paul are twin pillars of the Church.  Tradition tells us that they were martyred on the same day, and they share a feast, June 29.  And yet the scriptures bear witness that Peter and Paul did not always agree.  Paul respected Peter greatly, and acknowledged his special role of leadership, but did not hesitate to challenge him.  When Peter seemed to be backpedaling on the issue of Gentile believers—who, Paul insisted, did not need to be circumcised, and thus bound to obey the entire Mosaic law—Paul spoke his mind.  “I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong,” Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians; for he was “not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel” (2:10, 14).  Peter backed down—and the Church was born.

        In icons, Peter and Paul are often shown together, exchanging the kiss of peace.  It is a powerful reminder that from the beginning there were conflicts in the Church—conflicts that were resolved through open dialogue and, even more important, humble openness to the Holy Spirit.  The icon of Peter and Paul is an icon of Church leadership at its best; it is an icon of unity and peace.
This new icon will be the centerpiece of the Citywide Prayer for Christian Unity, which will take place in the Cathedral on Wednesday, January 21, at 7:00pm.  What better way to celebrate the Year of St. Paul than by coming together with people from across the Christian family in prayer?  (Bring a non-Catholic friend with you!)

        Saint Peter and Saint Paul, pray for us, that we may overcome our differences through give-and-take, through dialogue and understanding, and come at last to the unity Christ wills for us.

—C.L.


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