Friday, June 29, 2018
Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul
Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the great Apostles Peter and Paul. The stories of these men embody all the hills and valleys of a Christian life: call, conversion of heart, ministry, miracles, sacrifice, suffering, failure and glory.
Every human being passes through these hills and valleys. Why do some emerge as saints for the ages and others not?
Today’s readings would suggest this answer: they believed, and submitted their hearts to God’s unimaginable grace and power. Through that faith, they ultimately were led to the heights of holiness and carried the rest of us believers with them.
“The Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation of the Word
might be completed.”
When Jesus asks Peter what he believes, Peter says,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Ordinary men responding with a clear and extraordinary faith.
One June morning, about forty years ago, I sat in a sun-filled field in the Golan Heights of Israel at a spot named Caesarea Philippi. Thirty other pilgrims composed the group as we heard today’s Gospel being read. Listening, I watched the rising sun grow brilliant on the majestic rock face in the near distance. I thought how Peter might have watched his day’s sun playing against the same powerful cliffs.
Jesus said to him,
You are Peter (which mean “Rock”),
and upon this rock I will build my Church.
A few years later, I stood at the center of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Looking up, I saw these words emblazoned on the awesome rotunda dome:
Tu es Petrus,
et super hanc petram
On that lazy afternoon, two thousand years ago, Peter could never have imagined what God already saw. Yet, Peter responded – with his whole life. This is what makes a Saint.
Music: Gregorian Chant – Tu Es Petrus