Readings for Monday June 29, 2009
Solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, apostles
First Reading: Acts 12:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 34
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 4:6-8,17-18
Gospel: Matthew 16:13-19
Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:16-19)
Today we honor Saints Peter and Paul. Two men, both apostles growing the early church and spreading the gospel to both Jews and gentiles. While both of these men played a very important role in building the early church, and it is certain that both are with our Lord in Heaven, they are both a wonderful example of how God calls those least expected to help build His kingdom. How many of us would pick a fisherman to be the first pope of the Church? I am guessing that none of us would have, but God did, and He picked exactly the right man for the job. Peter certainly did fumble a bit in his early days of following Christ, but he never did abandon his faith, and that is what always kept him coming back. Once encountering the risen Christ and being empowered the the Holy Spirit, Peter went out and boldly proclaimed the gospel. This certainly did not lead to a luxurious and comfy lifestyle for him; in fact it lead to beatings, imprisonment, and eventually his own death by crucifixion upside down.
Saint Paul was also an unlikely candidate to build the church and spread the gospel. Here we have a Jewish tent maker from Tarsus whose sole mission is to destroy Christianity. But along the way to Damascus, Paul encounters the risen Christ and is blinded, his life was never the same. After being humbled and coming to see clearly, Paul goes forth spreading the the gospel message all over the lands. Paul would also come to be known as the apostle to the gentiles. While his Roman citizenship certainly provided some protection, Paul's life was far from easy. Paul also had his fair share of beatings, time in prison, shipwrecks, and his own martyrdom in Rome.
Peter and Paul show us that God can and does not always use the brightest or the most successful for His work. Many times He lifts up the lowly to do mighty things, or He humbles those that He calls. The fact is that we should never believe that we are too weak or not smart enough to do the work that God calls us to do. The fact is that many times we are too weak, not smart enough, or lack the necessary skills; but none of that matters if we truly believe in God and in His strength and wisdom. We must remember that with God nothing will be impossible. With God working through us we can do whatever He calls us to and go wherever He takes us. If we allow God to really transform us, as He did Peter and Paul, then there is not anything that we cannot accomplish for God's glory.
May we all seek to love God first in our lives, with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. If we can all do that for the rest of our lives, and to always seek His will first, then the one day we too will be able to say "I have competed; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me..."
Saint Peter and Saint Paul, pray for us.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for this day. Lord, thank you for the example of your servants Peter and Paul. Lord, help us to come to know and do your will as they did. Help us too to be bold and to build up the church and proclaim the good news to all we encounter. Lord, we pray for all those out there who are victims of violent crimes and for all of our priests. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.