As a recent convert to Orthodoxy, I make a habit of looking up the various occasions during which we fast or celebrate to learn more about them. At the beginning of the Apostles Fast, I found “What is the Apostles Fast?”, an excellent article by Fr. Brendan Pelphrey. With permission, I share a paragraph from that article:
“The [Apostles] Fast is also an occasion to remember that in Christ, we have a unity that goes far beyond our personal opinions, likes or dislikes. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that the Apostles themselves recognized this very early. The occasion was an argument which took place regarding whether the followers of Christ needed to continue to observe the Law of Moses. At first, Peter and Paul took different sides in the discussion.”
Fr. Pelphrey went on to write about the fact that Peter and Paul experienced conflict between them. Imagine! Two Holy men, both having profound, life changing experiences because of Christ and now enthusiastically living for Christ as they spread the gospel – these pillars of the faith are arguing! You can read the full article at Orthodox Christian Network: http://myocn.net/what-is-the-fast-of-the-apostles/. Spoiler alert: Peter ended up agreeing with Paul as a result of a vision God gave him.
Our reflection for today is from the statement in the quoted paragraph: “in Christ, we have a unity that goes far beyond our personal opinions, likes or dislikes.”
This struck me so deeply that I had to ask how often have I seen disunity because I was unable to set aside my opinions, likes, or dislikes? I don’t want to be too hard on myself. If the Holy men of God weren’t always in unity – it’s not surprising that I have that problem too. But I ask: Do I often neglect to filter out what I want and instead yield to what God wants? Do I ask what has eternal value? I used to think I did, but now I confess that sometimes I consider eternal value only after I consider what I think is best. Mea culpa! Mea culpa! Lord, help me set my opinions, likes, and dislikes aside and turn to you only for direction because, as Fr. Pelphrey wrote, it is in Christ that we have this unity.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
Annette Glass is a member of Joy of All Who Sorrow. She serves on the Board and coordinates the annual Christmas Families Program. Comments on our blog may be sent to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.