Power and Presence
Memorial of St. Hilary of Poitiers, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Some might call Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John impulsive. At the call of Jesus, they leave their careers and families behind to follow him. What was it that drew them so quickly and definitively to Jesus?
It could have been the urgency of his message: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” It could have been his reputation. It could have been that his call— “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men”—really hit them where they lived.
It was probably all of those things, but none of them would have had a lasting effect without the power of his Spirit and presence. He had been baptized by John, and the Spirit descended upon him (Mark 1:9-11). That same Spirit had driven him out into the desert, where he was tested by Satan for 40 days but was ministered to by angels (Mark 1:12-13). When Jesus came to the four fishermen, he came in the fullness of his humanity and his divinity. They followed him that day, and they would follow him (however imperfectly) to the cross—first his and eventually their own.
It was the reality and power of Jesus’ complete humanity and complete divinity that St. Hilary of Poitiers defended with such vigor in the Fourth Century, even as many church leaders and the Emperor tried to pressure him to accept Arianism (which denied the divinity of Christ).
Hilary was born a non-Christian. He was converted upon reading the Scriptures, and even though he was a layman and had a wife, he was made Bishop of Poitiers (part of what is now France). Like his apostolic predecessors, Hilary suffered for the faith, enduring bitter attacks and exile.
Through the intercession of Saints Peter, Andrew, James, John and Hilary, may we be open to respond to the power and presence of the Spirit, and follow Jesus wherever he leads us. +