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  • Sarah Raad

Exhort

The Wisdom to hear the Voice of the Holy Spirit is possible only by the gift of GRACE!

Saint Peter and Saint Paul (El Greco)

Over the last couple of years there are always articles about the British Royal Family in the newspaper. I have followed – rather disinterestedly – the changing opinions in the media of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, or more correctly now, Prince Harry and Megan Markle and their family.


There is a real reason why the public remain fascinated about this family. We have always been fascinated with the lives of the rich and famous, and we are even more fascinated by the lives of the women who “score” a prince. After all, many young girls dream of growing up to marry a prince and become a princess – as that is what all the fairy tales tell us we should dream about...


And yet, for this couple, there is no fairy tale. Instead, there has been a lot of complaining and dissatisfaction with their life and their treatment in the press.


I make no judgement about them either way, I make a single observation instead…

And my observation is that it is always easier to do a thing if we exhort each other to do it. In other words, it is easier to do the right thing if we encourage each other on that path…

When Saint Paul wrote to the Hebrews, he said, “But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13). What he meant by this is that we should encourage each other – support each other – so that we can do well and better to please Our Blessed Lord.


During the First Ecumenical Council the Apostles had to make decisions about whether new converts to Christianity were required to follow Jewish Law in relation to things like food regulations and male circumcision. It was decided in that council that Jewish Laws were not a requirement of Catholicism. Theoretically, with hindsight this seems a very simple decision, but for the Apostles it surely tormented them. After all, they were ALL pious Jewish men and Christ HIMSELF was a pious Jewish man. To suddenly decide that all of the rules that they followed as part of their normal daily lives in order to please God were UNNECESSARY would have been a very frightening experience for those men. How they LOVED GOD and how unwilling they were to displease Him…


And so, though they changed the rules for Christianity, this change was easier said than done for the disciples. In fact, legend has it that Saint Peter and Saint Paul were eating in Antioch and Saint Peter was unsure of whether he should eat the food being served – as it did not comply with the Jewish food laws. And so, Saint Peter – not wishing to offend Our Lord – decided not to eat – and Saint Barnabas, who was also there did the same thing.


Saint Paul did not accept this... After all – the Apostles could not be above the law that was of their own making! And Saint Paul did not hesitate to exhort his leader – Saint Peter – correcting him.


The very interesting thing from my perspective – knowing that Saint Paul corrected the Prince of the Church – is not that he dared to correct Christ’s Vicar on Earth, people often correct and comment on those in authority. The very interesting thing is that Christ’s Vicar on Earth – Saint Peter – responded by accepting this criticism and CHANGING. He did not reply, “I am the Prince of the Church, how dare you?” or “Who are you to judge me – you who martyred the Christians?” No. Saint Peter listened when Saint Paul exhorted him and CHANGED.


For it was the Holy Spirit moving through Saint Paul – for He has His way.


Now, the challenge for me, is to listen for the Beloved Voice of the Holy Spirit through the exhortations that I hear in my life and to ask Him for the Wisdom to discern His Holy Voice – for that is possible only by the gift of GRACE!


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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