St. Peter and Paul
It is rare for two saints to share a feast and even rarer that such a feast would take precedence over a Sunday. In theory this Sunday is the last Sunday when our churches will remain closed for worship. The reality, however, may be something else as it is going to be difficult to cater for all those who wish to come to Mass while being limited to a certain number way below the’ normal’ weekly attendance.
Each of the two saints we celebrate, Peter and Paul, is important for different reasons. Peter is important because he was the first Pope and kept the church united which was growing very rapidly in the years following Pentecost. In the first years after Pentecost it was Jews who accepted Jesus as the Saviour and so the early church was a very Jewish church. As time went on Paul began to preach also to non-Jews. His preaching was very successful and he brought huge numbers of non-Jews into the church, so much so that the number of Jews in the church was greatly outnumbered by non-Jews. It is because of Paul that we are now in the Church. So both Peter and Paul had very important tasks in the early church.
In today’s second reading from the second letter to Timothy, Paul is stating that he is coming to the end of his life and of his service to the Lord. He has kept faithful to the end and it is even as he approaches the end of his life that he acknowledges how the Lord has helped him by giving him the power to proclaim the message to everyone. He ends by giving glory to God.
In the Gospel, it is Simon Peter who features alongside Jesus. As often happened with Simon Peter, he was the one who said what he was thinking. Often this was not the right thing but this time he hit the jackpot! He tells Jesus that He is, ‘the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ At this point Jesus acknowledges that it was the Father who had revealed this to him. Jesus then goes on to change his name from Simon Peter to Peter. In addition He says He will build His church on the rock which is Peter.
This week’s feast teaches a number of lessons. One of these is that there is room in our churches for different personalities. This is something to remember as we work out how we can once more worship together in our church buildings. Even though Peter and Paul may have approached their faith in different ways, the important overriding factor was their love of God. Just as God called these two apostles to use their different personalities to spread His Word, so each of us must use our personalities, gifts and talents in the service of God.
Sr. Margaret Mattison