St Peter and St Paul
Today we celebrate and reflect on the significance and importance of Saints Peter and Paul. By removing them from their ‘saintly pedestals’ and seeing them as the men they were: flawed and fallible, we can see why God uses them to offer us a hope for our own response to His presence in our lives. In the Gospels, Peter invariably gets it ‘wrong’. He denies Jesus three times after having promised to die with him; he is impetuous and responds instinctively rather than with thought. Paul, a highly educated Pharisee had a fiery personality and was a persecutor of Christians.
Today’s readings show us how these two men came to experience Jesus the Christ. Peter followed Jesus, thinking Jesus was a good man, a great man, one who invited him to share life, one who was more human than anybody he had ever met. In the story today Peter was given the insight to see that Jesus was more than just a mere human. “You are the Messiah, the son of the Living God.” Paul’s journey was different. He began by persecuting the followers of Jesus, putting them in jail and maybe even punishing with death. Then, through the graciousness of God, he experiences Jesus the Christ. It is then he changes, he realises who Jesus is, and begins his preaching.
Our journeys may not be so dramatic, but “God meets us where we are and makes a healing and expanding presence known to us in the exact way we are most ready to experience it. God fills our hearts in whatever measure we are open to the Spirit. When we fall into God’s mercy, when we fall into God’s great generosity, we find, seemingly from nowhere, this capacity to change. No one is more surprised than we are. We know it is total gift.”
Fr. Richard Rohr
Once we know Jesus, and have experienced him, we are sent. Jesus makes himself known not so we can keep him to ourselves, but so that we can spread the Good News of his love, mercy, justice and peace. To be disciples we gather and we are sent into the world to preach by our lives and words the Good News: Jesus is alive and with us. As Pope Francis says, “The Church is not missionary in order to preserve itself, but to transform the world through love and healing, through walking with those in need and who struggle.”