The Common Life

As we look at the Gospel for this feast of the Confession of St Peter, we can see that the comprehension of Jesus's real identity did not come to the people in line for cures, or bread, or a fight, or anything else from Jesus. All these people have various guesses about who Jesus might be, sure, but all the guesses share the quality of second and thirdhand speculation. Dawning comprehension of Jesus’s identity came as a gift, through Peter, to those who traveled about with Jesus, who lived, listened and learned from him, who ate and drank with him, and who watched him at work, at prayer, and at rest.

And note, while this feast has Peter in its title, it’s not about Peter. This is a good first lesson for anyone in leadership, especially leaders who have anything to do with the Church, with binding and loosing: it’s not about you.

In the Rule, St Benedict seems to devote the most space to two particular things: how pray in common, and how to live graciously and respectfully with one another—how to lovingly inhabit a common space. Just as with Peter and the first disciples, we too will come to know Jesus’s true identity by means of the common life, lived where Jesus lives. In common worship, in constantly moving about in the same small space with the same other people, we will be formed as knowers and lovers of Jesus, as real human beings who live humbly and justly with one another.

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