Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul (2)

Today’s readings remind us through the lives of Sts. Peter and Paul that when our vocation to follow and serve Christ comes under fire and faces difficulty it is the Lord himself who does the heavy lifting. Peter’s profession of faith in today’s Gospel was bolstered by grace, not just his own sleuthing, and Our Lord promised him that the gates of the netherworld would not prevail against the Church that the Lord would found upon him as the Rock.

In today’s First Reading we see that promise fulfilled when James is executed by King Herod and Peter imprisoned and waiting to be next on the chopping block. The Church prays for Peter, and the Lord responds by sending an angel to lead Peter unharmed out of the midst of the forces of the netherworld that sought to silence him just as he was beginning his ministry. In today’s Second Reading Paul recalls that throughout the hardships of his mission among the Gentiles it was the Lord who strengthened him and enabled him to fulfill his mission in the darkest of moments; even as he warns Timothy that he sees his life and mission drawing to an end he gives glory to the Lord and trusts in him as he prepares for his final days.

Both Peter and Paul suffered difficulty and hardship in their mission, but they didn’t have to face it alone. Let’s not shy away from striving to do whatever Our Lord asks, despite our frailties and limitations, knowing that he’ll be with us every step of the way.

Readings: Acts 12:1–11; Psalm 34:2–9; 2 Timothy 4:6–8, 17–18; Matthew 16:13–19. See also Feast of the Chair of St. Peter and Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul

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.