In today’s solemnity we are celebrating two living stones who stood firm. St. Peter encouraged believers under fire to “Come to him [Jesus]that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s mind chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5). Jesus gave Peter a special mission in today’s Gospel: “you are the rock on which I will build my Church”: He was a living stone who put out the nets for a catch after a long fishless night. He was the first one to tell Christ he didn’t know what he was getting into by inviting him to follow him, but Christ promised he’d be a fisher of men, and after all the trials and suffering, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, in the First Reading we see the whole Church praying for him after he was imprisoned.
St. Paul was so in awe of Peter’s special mission in the Church that he called him Kephas (Aramaic for Rock), and told the Christians to come after the apostles to build on that foundation: “you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple of the Lord” (Ephesians 2:19-22). Saul was a living stone, but he was set on the wrong foundation, persecuting Christians, and the downfall was soon in coming. When he stopped kicking at Christ’s goad, putting all his talents at the service of the special mission that Christ gave him, he laid the foundation for generations of Christians, even to this day.
We are called to be those living stones who build upon the bedrock of the Church, to form that spiritual edifice, to build up the Church. Nobody says it will be easy. It won’t. Peter told Jesus “depart from me”: he did not feel up to the task. Jesus said “I have prayed for you, and when you come back to yourself, strengthen your brethren.” Paul told the Christians at Corinth that it was with “fear and trembling” that he preached the Gospel to them, but as he reminds Timothy in the Second Reading today, “the Lord stood by me and gave me power.” The Holy Spirit is the protagonist, we are just the instruments, he transforms us into living stones, if we let him. Let’s ask for the grace today through the intercession of Sts. Peter and Paul to be living stones in the Church.
Readings: Acts 12:1–11; Psalm 34:2–9; 2 Timothy 4:6–8, 17–18; Matthew 16:13–19.