St Peter and St Paul, Sunday 30th June 2019
You would have thought that these two great saints, Peter and Paul, each of whom met Jesus in different ways would be deserving of a feast each – yet these exact opposites are simply lumped together. Peter had to ensure permanent structures; Paul could live with ambivalence!
I remember a mother once describe a daughter as her rock – she did not have to say anymore. Jesus called Peter his ‘rock’. In fact, Peter himself was a builder – he wished to build a permanent structure on the mount of transfiguration – "If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah." It was not to happen. He had to come down from the mountain and engage with everyday life.
Imagine making Peter, who denied Jesus three times, the corner stone of our church, a church which has survived and will survive!
Saul/Paul, on the other hand was on his way to Damascus with a list of Christians whom he would bring to court and who presumably would be stoned to death like Stephen. (Is it not possible that Saul/Paul had not already caught a glimpse of the dying forgiving Stephen, of whose death he, Saul, fully approved?)
Men of vision
Jesus enriched both these men with a shared vision. Peter simply had to declare three times that he loved Jesus and then he was given his mission. Paul had to explain why he was persecuting Jesus. Later Paul could declare that he had only one message and it is this," there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ." (Gal 3:28).
A shared vision
Today, St. Peter and St. Paul call us to unite, as diverse minorities, regardless of differences of temperament, outlook, ways of working (modus operandi) or ways of living (Modus vivendi), around one primary goal, and that is, to proclaim Jesus, in whom we are one bread, one body.
Fr Michael McCullagh c.m.