REFLECTION FOR TODAY
June 29, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
“And so, I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you lose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matt. 16:17-19
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. We celebrate the two main pillars of the early Church. These men represent two vital aspects of Christianity, both in its corporate and individual dimensions: the pastoral and the missionary.
Peter was a family man, a local fisherman, uneducated and quite ordinary. From what we know about him prior to being called by Jesus, there was nothing that made him uniquely qualified to become one of the pillars of the new Church to be established by Jesus other than Jesus called him, and he responded. In our gospel reference today Jesus called Peter rock on which he will build his Church.
Paul was “a Jew, born at Tarsus. He was well educated in the strictest interpretation of the Jewish law, understood philosophy and was quite zealous as a young man. Prior to becoming a convert to Christianity, he “persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it”. In many ways, Paul would have been seen as the most unlikely person to be chosen to be a pillar of the Church, because he so vigorously opposed it at first. He even supported the killing of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
Though each of these men would have been considered by many as very unlikely founders of the Christian Church, this is exactly what they became. Paul, after his conversion, traveled far and wide to preach the Gospel, founding several new Churches. Over half of the New Testament books are attributed to Paul, he is especially known for his missionary activity to the gentiles, those who were not Jews.
These two great men have made it clear that our faith is not meant to be an individual, isolated thing. It is not just “me and Jesus”. It is rather “Christ and his Church”. God never wanted us to live in isolation from each other. He never intended Christianity to be an individual experience. He gave a corporate dimension to our faith, so that our experience of the life in the Spirit would be spurred on in power and supported in hope by the faithful witness of so many other believers.
You, too, have been called by our Lord to a unique mission within the Church that has not been entrusted to another. In your own way, God wants to use you to reach certain people with the Gospel as He did with Saint Paul. And like Saint Peter, God wants to continue to establish His Church upon you and your faith.
Reflect, today, upon these two holy and unique pillars of our Church. As you do, ponder how God may want to use you to continue their mission in this world. Though Saints Peter and Paul are among the greatest and most consequential Christians within our world, their mission must continue, and you are among the instruments that God wants to use. Commit yourself to this mission so that the preaching of the Gospel and the rock foundation of our Church will remain strong within our day and age just as it was of old.
Lord Jesus, You chosen Peter to be a rock foundation of faith upon which the Church was established and called Paul, to preach the faith far and wide, by establishing many new communities of faith. As You call me Lord please use me, to continue the mission of Your Church so that the faith may be firmly planted in the minds and hearts of all Your people throughout the world. Jesus, I trust in You.