Feast of Sts Peter and Paul
Many questioned the wisdom of Jesus, as we hear in today’s Gospel (Matthew 16:13-19), as he appoints Peter as the rock, the foundation on which the church will be built.
As we celebrate the feast day of St Peter and St Paul, we realise that they are not that strong or dependable as a foundation for the church. Why? Asks Fr Paul. Let’s take Peter for a moment – someone once said of St Peter, ‘I love him… every time he opens his mouth he puts his foot in it!’
Fr Paul says it is quite clear that a lot of the time that was the case:
- Peter walked on water but then panicked and began to sink;
- Peter professes his faith in one breath and in the next, again because of something he says, Jesus addresses him saying ‘Get behind me Satan’, it’s your way not God’s way;
- Peter refuses to be washed and seconds later wants to be washed all over.
- Peter, despite being warned by Jesus, still betrays him.
For Fr Paul, the beauty of Peter is that he is a very ordinary man, who makes mistakes and this shows that the church is not just for saints but it is also for confused, impetuous, cowardly people like us and like St Peter.
St Paul, too, was a flawed person. Initially, he persecuted Christians before he was converted on the road to Damascus. After his conversion, Paul made it his mission to proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. Paul went on missionary journeys preaching this message about Jesus and established communities of faith as he went.
The other great treasure that Paul left us is, out of the 27 books of the New Testament, 13 are attributed to St Paul. There is always debate about the authorship of these books but certainly, Paul, through his writings, has given us a beautiful insight into the early life of the Christian community.
Today, as we celebrate St Peter and St Paul, we might take a moment to remember that as weak, flawed ordinary people, they are examples and an acknowledgement that there is a place in the church for all of us. As weak we are, as weak as I am, we too, can be given the grace to live and proclaim our faith. Fr Paul says we might pray for that grace in our prayer time today.