St Peter & St Paul - Year B - 28June 2015

The Church of the Apostles

Today's feast celebrates the faith of two Christians whom we recognize as founders of the Church. Early documents show that a feast to commemorate these two Church leaders was being celebrated in Rome in the fourth century.

In today's scripture readings Paul and Peter boldly proclaim their faith. Yet such proclamations didn't come easily. For one, his journey began in persecuting Christ's followers - 'Saul, Saul, -why do you persecute me?' For the other, loyalty failed at a crucial point and he denied Jesus. Other aspects of their stories reflect their courage and determination in witnessing to their faith. This mixture of frailty and faith in their own lives, illustrates the nature of the Church they helped to establish. It is a Church wanting to profess its faith to the whole world, while never forgetting its own vulnerabilities.

The Peter we meet in Acts of the Apostles portrays the qualities we would expect in a leader. For example, he takes the initiative in electing the successor to Judas Iscariot; he preaches the first sermon at Pentecost; he heals the crippled man, he receives the first gentile converts; he presides at the Council of Jerusalem.

The Peter we meet in the Gospels is, like any rock, constantly being shaped and formed. He is the impetuous one whose convictions seem to fade when fear takes hold; like the time when he jumps out of the boat to walk across the water to Jesus - and then realizes what he is doing and loses heart; or during the washing of the feet when he seems to miss the point and initially refuses to allow Jesus to wash his feet. When Jesus says to him 'if I do not wash you, I can have nothing in common with you', Peter promptly asks that his hands and his feet be washed as well. He wants so much to be a part of what Jesus is about. The Rock is turned again and again. Such turning and returning is the essence of conversion.

Peter knew what it was to be forgiven: 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?' He took the opportunity the risen Jesus gave him. Yes Lord, you know I love you'. That's the kind of Church we belong to, a Church that is constantly involved in conversion, a Church were position doesn't guarantee certainty but requires openness. Wherever the Church is not true to this identity, it dies. As a Church, we remember the faith journeys of these two Church leaders. We pray that we may be true to the faith they professed and to the life of ongoing conversion they both lived.

Fr Kevin O'Shea C.M.