The Irish novelist and poet, James Joyce (1882-1941) earned a reputation for his challenging (that’s putting it mildly) literature. Case in point: Finnegans Wake. The fact that this novel is largely unread attests to its complexity. And yet, Joyce’s “Here comes everybody,” the phrase the author used to describe the Catholic Church, is probably one of the novel’s most familiar and oft quoted phrases. “A big tent” is another phrase that analogizes the Church’s capacity to house the vast diversity of believers.
We need not look further than Saint Peter and Saint Paul to understand that diversity has been a part of the church fabric from the very start. The two men could not have been more different in terms of their gifts, personalities, backgrounds and the origins of their faith. It is improbable that they would have seen eye to eye on many topics. But while intuition and heart (frequently without comprehension) guided Peter’s rock solid faith, and logic, intellect, and a conviction that his authority came from God led Paul’s, both men were passionately dedicated to Jesus Christ and gave their lives in service to him, his mission, and the unity of the Church. They did not let their differences get in the way of the mission.
Saint Peter and Saint Paul are models for us today when divisiveness and polarity threaten not only the unity of the Catholic church but our overall ability to work and live peaceably.
Let’s remember just how big this tent really is—there’s room for everybody—and devote ourselves to working for unity.
Come on in!