Adrian Dominican Sisters General Chapter 2022, Day 3 Preaching by Sara Fairbanks, OP Wednesday, June 29, 2022 - Feast of Saints Peter and Paul Helen Keller once said, “The bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn.” As we have been deliberating over our enactments, we are well aware of the many challenges facing our Church and world. In recent years, many Church leaders have pushed back against Vatican II and the spirit of reform that held out hope for the ordination of women and married men in a discipleship of equals. Clerical abuse of power has runs rampant, Church membership is in steep decline, and the future of vowed Dominican life is uncertain. Likewise, our world seems to be careening down a road toward a calamitous end, accelerated by greed and economic inequality, racial, ethnic, and sexist injustices at every turn, attacks on democracy, gun violence, war, and ecological disaster leading to mass suffering and extinction. Is this a bend in the road or the end of the road? How will we ever make the turn in the road that leads to new life where the love of God and the love of neighbor as self is our deepest identity and our purpose in mission? On this feast day of St. Peter and St. Paul, we as Church celebrate two saintly figures, who themselves lived in a perilous world under the military dictatorship of Imperial Rome, whose ruthless exploitation squelched their nation’s livelihood. Working to keeping hope alive in the Risen Christ, Peter and Paul exemplify a faith response guided by the Holy Spirit that, although long past, touches our present and gives direction and meaning to our future as we attempt to navigate successfully the turn in the road toward a Church and world made new by the radical love of the living God. While Peter and Paul have different stories to tell, both proclaimed the Risen Christ and his way of life. They spoke boldly of his imminent return when he would restore and renew Israel for the inbreaking of God’s reign of love, justice and peace. In the company of many missionary co-workers, both women and men, Peter and Paul encountered an unexpected and treacherous bend in the road, when the majority of Israel refused to believe their preaching, but instead met them with violent persecution, floggings, imprisonment, and even death. Through prayer, perseverance, and community they embraced the dark night of their struggle, and in those depths discovered that the Living Christ was doing something new. The Holy Spirit, was enkindling a new fire of faith among the Gentiles, turning their hearts to Christ and his message of God’s unconditional love for all people. The Spirit of Christ was giving birth to the Church. Peter and Paul simply let go and let God! They obediently followed the Spirit’s guide to expand the circle of who belongs as valued members of the body of Christ. Likewise, Paul refuses to set up a road block to the Gentiles by forcing them to conform to Jewish laws and traditions in order to follow Christ. He reminds the Galatians that the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: You shall love your neighbor as yourself . He goes on to explain that in Christ Jesus we "see no stranger." Paul writes, "As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, no longer slave or free, no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3: 27-28). Peter and Paul well exemplify the all-inclusive, revolutionary love that we heard Sikh American activist Valerie Kaur describe. She says, "Revolutionary love is demanding labor, but it is also creative, transformative and joyful labor—immeasurably complex and messy, tumultuous and revelatory, marked by wonder, and worth it. Revolutionary love is how we last." Through our enactments we set our agenda to do the work of revolutionary love that seeks collaboration with an ever-expanding circle of partners in mission (including the worms!) that excludes no one from our circle of care. The bend in the road is not the end of the road, if together hand in hand, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we recommit ourselves to "seek truth; make peace; reverence life."