Today the celebration of the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time follows the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the Apostles. “These men were eyewitnesses of the Christ-event; they were messengers and shepherds appointed by Christ himself to carry the message of salvation to the whole world as his representatives and to build the community of the Lord as men on whom full authority to bind and to loose has been bestowed.” (Adolf Adam, The Liturgical Year, 1981). We honor these saints because they passed on to us in letter and example their fervor for Christ, their dedication and effort to teach the people, draw people to Christ, and instill within us a sense of our own role as evangelists of the Gospel message. Their commitment and unwavering courage led to their martyrdoms, examples of faith for the whole world. In 2008 Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed a year of celebration of St. Paul, that began June 21st until this June 24, 2009; in preparation for the 2,000th anniversary of the apostle Paul’s birth.
Throughout that year Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza de Montezemolo, archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, suggested that “we would listen to many excerpts from Paul’s letters, reacquainting us with his life; relooking at the life of the early church; delve deeply into his rich teaching to the ‘gentiles’; meditate on his spirituality of faith, hope and charity; revitalize our faith and our role in today’s Church in the light of his teachings; pray and work for the unity of all Christians in a united church.”
In the Gospel from Matthew on the solemnity, we hear Peter’s confession of faith responding to Jesus’ question, who do people say that I am: “You are the Christ, the Son of God.” The Lord makes Peter the very foundation of the church, “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church.” Peter was the impetuous one who dared to walk on water; return to fishing after a night without catching anything, denied Jesus three times before the crucifixion and in John’s Gospel, professed his commitment “to feed the sheep and tend the flock” three times.
As we honor these two apostles, may we learn from their example, learn from their teachings, and put into practice the faith they dared to pass on to Gentile and Jew alike. May we grow in faith, choosing to follow Christ more nearly these summer days, seeing the days begin to shorten minute by minute and the nights lengthen minute by minute. Each day we can choose to live in the light of the Lord as Peter and Paul did until they surrendered their very lives as martyrs for the church. We may not surrender our lives, but we can give witness to our faith by what we say and do.
We also take time out this week on Independence Day, July 4th to remember the sacrifices of our forebears who fought and died for our independence. May we remember, prize and cherish our freedoms.
Blessings, Father Larry Hendel, Pastor