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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Peter, Paul and different Missions







Raphael, (1483 – April 6, 1520)
The Conversion of the Proconsul, 1515-16
Bodycolour on paper mounted onto canvas (tapestry cartoon),
304 x 405 cm
Lent by H.M. The Queen
The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The website of the Victoria and Albert Museum describes the Cartoon as follows:

"(Acts 13:6-12)
'And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus: which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.

Then Saul (who is also called Paul), filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.'

The Jewish sorcerer Elymas has just been struck blind by Paul because he tried to prevent Barnabas and Paul from converting the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus to Christianity. As a result, the proconsul comes to believe in the Lord.

The text on the plinth below the proconsul tells the resolution of the story; in translation, it reads 'Lucius Sergius Paulus, Proconsul of Asia, embraces the Christian faith through the preaching of Paul.'

This scene, taken together with The Healing of the Lame Man, illustrates the different missions of Peter and Paul: Paul's mission is to convert the Gentiles, while Peter's mission is to convert the Jews."






Raphael, (1483 – April 6, 1520)
The Healing of the Lame Man, 1515-16
Bodycolour on paper mounted onto canvas (tapestry cartoon),
340 x 530 cm
Lent by H.M. The Queen
The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The website of the Victoria and Albert Museum describes the Cartoon as follows:

"(Acts 3:1-8)
'Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.

And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter saith, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.'

A crowd is gathered at the gate of the Temple in Jerusalem.

At the centre stands Peter (bearded, in a blue and yellow robe), healing the lame man, while John the Evangelist (the youthful figure in a salmon-coloured robe) looks on. This act symbolises Peter's spiritual healing and conversion of the Jews.

Taken together with The Conversion of the Proconsul, it illustrates the different missions of Peter and Paul; whereas Peter's mission was to convert the Jews, Paul's was to convert the Gentiles.

Raphael based the ornate, twisted columns on antique examples in St Peter's Basilica in Rome. At the time, they were thought to have come from Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem."



In Avvenire (25th February 2010), Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi President of the Pontifical Council of Culture described the current forms of atheism with which the Church wants to dialogue:

"Attention must be paid to the different forms of atheism, which cannot be reduced to a single model.

On one side there is the great atheism of Nietzsche and Marx, which unfortunately has gone into crisis, constituted by an explanation of reality different from that of the believer, but with its own ethics, a serious and courageous vision, for example, in considering man alone in the universe.

Then there is an ironic-sarcastic atheism that takes aim at marginal aspects of belief, or at fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible. This is the atheism of Onfray, Dawkins, and Hitchens.

In the third place there is an absolute indifference born of secularization, summarized well by the example that Charles Taylor gives in 'A secular age' when he says that if God were to come to one of our cities today, the only thing that would happen would be that they would ask to see his papers."