Sometimes . . . even saints disagree.
St. Peter and St. Paul, whose feast day we celebrate today, were two of the greatest saints of our Church. However, they didn’t always see eye to eye. You can read in St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians how he was mad at St. Peter for being hypocritical in his actions.
So, what did St. Paul do? I’ll help you out and make it a multiple choice question.
Did St. Paul,
- gossip about St. Peter behind his back
- tell the Christians to stop following St. Peter, who was their leader
- start a fight with St. Peter and call him names
- talk with St. Peter when he saw him
Any guesses? Hopefully you said 4 (because that’s what happened). St. Paul tells us that “When [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong.” (Galatians 2:11)
After explaining the problem St. Paul continues, “But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to [Peter] in front of all, ‘If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?’” (Galatians 2:14)
What makes saints . . . well, saints is how they disagree! Although Paul knew Peter was wrong he still respected his authority.
How do I know? Because St. Paul had previously written “Respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.” (Romans 13:7) St. Peter, as leader of the Christians, was worthy of honor and respect, even though he was wrong. St. Paul, who was right, could have been rude, pompous, or obnoxious, but wasn’t. He proved his holiness by being respectful and obedient to St. Peter.
My goal in life is to be a saint, and I hope yours in too, so we need to ask ourselves – how do I treat people when I disagree with them?
Look actions 1 – 4 above and replace ‘St. Peter’ with whomever you disagree with. Are you more likely to gossip about the person, tell other people how wrong they are, or even fight with the person? Or are you mature enough to respectfully talk with the person and still give them the honor they deserve?
What If . . .
Let’s look at two concrete examples:
Your brother/sister breaks the computer and tells your parents that you did it, when you really didn’t. Your parents believe your sibling and ground you for a week.
How would you handle this? Complain about it to all of your friends but never talk to your parents? Or, confront your parents and yell at them until you’re not grounded anymore? Hopefully not!
Your parents, even though they are wrong, are deserving of honor, respect, and an intelligent conversation with you.
Right now in the U.S., Catholics (and many people of other faiths) rightfully disagree with the President’s attempt to take away our religious freedom through the HHS mandate.
So how do we handle this situation? Does our disagreement make it okay to call the President names? Does it make it okay to be disrespectful when talking about him with other people?
I would repeat what St. Paul said in his letter to the Romans – “Respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.”
The President of the United States is most definitely worthy of honor and respect, even though he is wrong! It’s our duty to disagree with the President and to work to show him his mistake – as millions of Catholics have done through prayer and peaceful protest, but not in a way that disrespects him or degrades ourselves.
If we want to be saints we need to learn to disagree like saints – with respect, honor and obedience! Whether it is with a friend, a parent, a teacher, or the President of the United States, we have to speak with love – even when the person is wrong!