Mass Reading & Meditation for June 29, 2013
Meditation: Matthew 16:13-19
Saints and Peter and Paul, Apostles
Let us together extol his name. (Psalm 34:4)
Have you ever wondered why these two very different saints share a feast day? Though pillars of the early Church, Peter and Paul didn’t always see eye to eye. We think of Peter, with the keys of the kingdom, exercising the authority given him by Jesus as he leads the Jewish converts. Then we imagine Paul, wielding the sword of the spirit as he teaches the word of God throughout the known world and converts the Gentiles. What’s more, we already celebrated Paul’s conversion with a feast in January and the Chair of Peter in February. So why this feast?
Actually, this feast has been celebrated in the Church since the third century. Remember that both Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome. Remember, too, that both have been seen as special patrons of the city, pillars of the early Church who were instrumental in spreading the gospel throughout the world. Then, during a persecution under the Roman emperor Valerian in a.d. 258, the remains of both apostles were temporarily removed—tradition tells us on June 29—to protect them from defilement.
Can you imagine what the Church would be like without Peter? How about without Paul? Clearly, God used both of them, with their different gifts, to give us a fuller picture of what the gospel message is all about. Isn’t it heartening to know that there isn’t just one hero of the Church? It takes more than one person or personality type—a lot more than one, in fact—to transform the world. God uses everyone in a different way. He wants all of us to be heroes and heroines in his name!
So as we celebrate these two saints, let’s remember that holiness doesn’t mean being like someone else who’s holy. It means taking all of our gifts, talents, strengths, and even weaknesses, and devoting them to the kingdom of God. It means becoming the heroes we were born to be. It means recognizing how impoverished the Church would be without our witness, our prayer, and our service.
“Father, I am so glad you use all kinds of people to build your kingdom! There is no recipe for sanctity except that I love you and follow you with all my life!”
Acts 12:1-11; Psalm 34:2-9; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18