Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul
Gospel: Matthew 16:13-19
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Today on the glorious feast of St. Peter and St. Paul we encounter the exquisite beauty of the Catholic Church. Most notably – diversity amongst unity.
From this Sundays Gospel it is easy for us to gloss over the very fact that Jesus institutes Peter as the Rock on which he will institute his entire Church. We might acknowledge the authority, power and majesty of the Petrine office bequeathed by Christ, but fail to acknowledge the unifying characteristic that also comes with it.
Like anything in natural history, there is strength in unity. And so the Church to this day has seen empires, legions, governments, parliaments, kingdoms, sovereignties, principalities come and go, and yet she survives; because she has one voice; Peters voice – instituted by Christ and led by the Holy Spirit – and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.
Peter and Paul didn’t agree on everything (see Acts 17:7-20), in fact they disputed much, but yet Paul always looked to Peter as head of the church. From this respect and obedience develops great diversity within unity because there is freedom to express the one unifying truth. St. Paul gives us the analogy of the Church as a body, being made up of many different parts. Each part having its own important role to play (although I have always felt that for the sake of peace it is better not to stick a nose next to an armpit!).
But yet no matter how much Peter and Paul disputed in life, they were united in death, both surrendering their lives for Christ, both equal before the Lord. Brothers forever.
Spiritual rock and living stones
Calling someone a “rock” is one of the greatest of compliments. Steady, solid, unmoving, strong. This is Peter. But Peter describes the church, the people of God, as a spiritual house and temple of the Holy Spirit with each member joined together as living stones (see 1 Peter 2:5). In this way, through the strength we gain from being part of the living church, we become little rocks for others to lean on.
But we must ask ourselves are we truly living stones? Or are our hearts as hard as stone? How do we answer Jesus when He asks us “Who do you say that I am?”.
Thought for the week…
Am I truly a living stone?
Set our hearts on fire with love for you. Unite us in this burning love.
Thank You, I love you Jesus, Amen.