Solemnity of Ss Peter & Paul
Acts 12: 1-11; 2 Timothy 4: 6-8 & 17-18; Matthew 16: 13-19
“Glorify the Lord with me. Together let us praise his name. I sought the Lord and he answered me, from all my terrors he set me free.”
The words of the Responsorial Psalm for the Mass of Saints Peter and Paul perfectly expresses the faith that drove the ministry of such very different apostles. Peter, the fisherman, had been born into the obscurity of Northern Galilee, far removed from the influence and prestige of Jerusalem. Paul’s world was very different. Born at Tarsus, he had grown up as a part of the Jewish diaspora, those scattered Jewish communities forced to flee the land of their faith. As such he belonged to two very different worlds: the sophistication and undoubted achievement of the Graeco-Roman world, and the comparatively insignificant world of the Jewish faith.
Beyond these differences, Peter and Paul were united in a faith searching for God. Such was the faith that led Peter to his first encounter with Jesus on the shores of Lake Galilee. That same faith brought Saul to Jerusalem as the persecutor of the early Church, and ultimately to his encounter with his Risen Lord on the Road to Damascus.
We have grown up in a world completely transformed from the days of Peter and Paul. One thing we can, and must, share with them: a faith searching for the presence of God.
“This poor man called, the Lord heard him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. He is happy who takes refuge in him.”
For the Psalms, faith is always expressed as a longing for God, something that reaches beyond mere recitation. Such was the faith that united Peter and Paul, opening their hearts to the presence of the living God.
Jesus called his disciples to such faith at Caesarea Galilee. Their exchange began on the safe ground of a general discussion.
“Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
In such a discussion the disciples were able to describe the faith of others without any personal confession of faith. It was as if they were hidden in the safety of the crowd. More than we perhaps realise, we live much of our lives hidden in such obscurity. Ultimately Jesus invites us, as he invited his disciples, to stand out from the crowd.
“But you, who do you say that I am?”
Peter’s confession of faith, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ was both the gift of the Father, and, at the same time, his entrance into an entirely new dimension of faith.
As we celebrate the lives of Peter and Paul, may we grow in their longing for the Lord, a longing that brings us into his saving presence.
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