Today is the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. The Bishops’ website commentary follows the gospel.
Gospel Matthew 16:13-19
You are Peter, and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’
‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’
Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’
The Gospel of the Lord.
Gospel Reflection Thursday, Saints Peter and Paul Matthew 16:13-19
Today we celebrate the feast of two of the great pillars of the church, Peter and Paul. They came from very different backgrounds. Peter was a fisherman from rural Galilee. Paul was a learned Pharisee from the university city of Tarsus. Peter knew Jesus from the time of Jesus’ baptism and was with Jesus until the time of Jesus’ passion and death; Paul only ever met the risen Lord. For all their differences, they had at least one thing in common. Both of these men found themselves at odds with the Lord. Peter denied Jesus publicly three times. Paul violently persecuted the followers of Jesus, and thereby persecuted Jesus himself. Yet, their resistance to the Lord did not prevent the Lord from working powerfully through them. Peter was chosen to be the leader of the twelve, the rock on which Jesus would build his church. Paul was chosen to be the great apostle to the pagans. We know from the letter to the Galatians that Peter and Paul had a serious disagreement at one point about the direction the church should be taking. They were very different people and the Lord worked through each of them in very different ways. They were certainly united in death. Very early tradition recalls that both were executed in Rome by the emperor Nero who blamed the Christians for the fire of Rome. Today’s feast reminds us that the way the Lord works through us is unique to each one of us. The feast also reassures us that our many resistances to the Lord need not be a hindrance to the Lord working through us. Peter who denied the Lord and Paul who persecuted the Lord went on to become great servants of the Lord. Our failings do not define who we are. Paul declares in his first letter to the Corinthians, ‘the Lord’s grace toward me has not been in vain’. The Lord’s grace towards us in our weakness and frailty need never be in vain if we continue to open ourselves to the workings of that grace, as Peter and Paul did.
The Gospel reflection comes from WEEKDAY REFLECTIONS: To know the love of Christ 2016/2017 by Martin Hogan published by The Messenger c/f www.messenger.ie