Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul
Acts of the Apostles 12:1-11, Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18,
& Matthew 16:13-19
For me, there are several powerful and endearing images of Peter the Apostle in the Scriptures. Several of them occur in today's readings. The first is in Acts and shows a frightened but hopeful Peter walking out of Herod's prison cell not so much under his power but because of the miraculous deliverance of the Risen Jesus. In the Gospel narrative of Saint Matthew, the second image of Peter is the profession of faith that Jesus is the Christ, "The Son of the Living God." From that moment, Peter is to be the rock for the Church.
These images of Peter help me fill out an understanding of his ministry because he, like the Church, is at his best when he speaks the simple truth as it is given to him and relies on the power of God. Peter learned to trust Jesus, and therefore trust God, in the most difficult possible way. He trusted God through trial and error, as in the humiliation of his betrayal of the One he loved. Peter learned to trust in God because he found compassion for his mistakes. The result is a kind of leadership forged out of compassion because of Peter's need for mercy.
Similarly, in 2 Timothy, Paul testifies, in most probably his last will and testament, that the power from deliverance belongs to God. Here is the great Christian champion reduced to a hurried, yet eloquent, profession of faith shortly before his death, probably in A.D. 67.
Friends, here is another image of discipleship that builds up the believer's hope. The great preacher of Christ crucified, the apostle to the Gentiles, is about to die. Yet, he proclaims that, though deserted by every human aid, "The Lord stood by me and gave me strength so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it." Even though Paul was rescued from execution on several occasions, he knows the end is near; he longs only for the embrace of God, and the safety of heaven reached through death in imitation of Jesus Himself.
Peter: A leader blessed with little eloquence but powerful compassion.
Paul: An eloquent preacher of salvation found through the crucified Christ.
Question of the Day: How will you be a humble reminder of faith's wonderful and profound dedication, such as the Apostles Peter and Paul?
Prayer: "These are the ones who, living in the flesh, planted the Church with their blood; they drank the chalice of the Lord and became the friends of God." (An excerpt from the Entrance Antiphon from May 29, 2021)