The Gospel according to Matthew (16:13-19)
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. 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 loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Reflection: Throughout history we have had many duos, partnerships of two who are famous for something. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers, Abbott and Costello, Bert and Ernie, Kareem and Magic, just to name a few. These and many more are remembered because of some achievement or influence on our culture. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. Unlike any other duo their influence will endure for all of eternity because they changed the course of history by proclaiming the good news that, through Jesus Christ we are co-heirs of the Kingdom of heaven and earth.
I think it is a little unusual that Peter and Paul share a day, but it made sense the more I thought about it. It is not possible to name two more influential people in our church history, after the ascension of Our Lord. Both Peter and Paul were powerful forces in different places and with a variety of people. Peter, as the leader of the early church and Paul, as the evangelizer to the gentiles converted the hearts of many. Their passion and determination to share the gospel by preaching, teaching, and living as examples for others was all based on their love of Jesus. They picked up their cross and followed Jesus. And because of this we honor and remember their lives, sacrifices, and ultimately their deaths as a testament to what is possible when we dedicate our lives to serve the Lord.
Like Peter and Paul, we too can serve the Lord and change lives. First, our own, then the lives of those who are part of our living history. We may not have as great an impact, but we can, none the less, influence many. We too are blessed when we acknowledge that Jesus is The Christ, Son of the Living God. God has revealed this to us as well. With this knowledge, our minds, hearts, and spirits can rejoice in the promise that the gates of the nether world will not prevail. We are part of the church established and enabled by Jesus to continue the mission of salvation He began. May we never tire of proclaiming the good news that God, in Jesus Christ, loves us and that we will always have a home with him for all of eternity.
Action of the Day: In prayer and meditation consider what Jesus said about the gates of the netherworld not prevailing against the church. In the midst of the chaos and suffering in this world we have the assurance that evil does not win. Allow this to bring you the peace that is only possible when our hearts rest with Jesus.