Reflection: Saint Peter and Saint Paul

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

Mass is conducted in a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

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[1st Reading – Acts12:1-11; Ps.33; 2nd Reading – 2Tim.4:6-8,17-18; Gospel – Mt.16:13-19]

Today’s solemnity of these two ‘pillars of the Church’, Saints Peter and Paul, should help us to understand why these two Apostles are being looked at with so much honour in the Church. Although they each have their own individual feast days, they are also presented together in today’s solemnity.  Our reflection should help us understand why Peter is called ‘A Happy Man’ and why Paul is waiting for the Righteous Judge to give him the crown of righteousness.  Since today’s gospel is St. Matthew’s version of last Sunday’s gospel, our main reflection this week will instead be focused on the second reading, i.e. Saint Paul’s letter to Timothy.  Paul is speaking about himself in this text, but what he says can quite easily be applied directly to Peter as well.

Paul is presenting to Timothy his own Testament.  He is saying that it is time for him (Paul) to be gone.  He has done what he had to do: fought the ‘good fight to the end’, ‘ran the race to the finish’ and has ‘kept the faith’.  He has done everything ‘to the end’.  It was not a one off ‘good fight’ for example or a one off ‘race’.  It was something that he has done ‘to the finish’.  Furthermore he is proud to tell Timothy that he has ‘kept the faith’.  Paul knows how difficult it is to believe and therefore he is telling Timothy that, despite all the turmoil he (Paul) had passed through in his life, he still believed… right from the beginning (i.e. on the road to Damascus) until the end.  Therefore, Paul is now waiting for that day when the Lord, whom he calls ‘the righteous judge’, will give him the crown of righteousness reserved to him.  But Paul continues to say that this crown, although it is reserved to him, is not only reserved to him but also to all those who have longed for the Appearance of the Lord.  Therefore Paul’s fate is also the fate of those who, like him, have fought the battle till the end, have run the race to the finish, and have, above all, kept the faith.  There is no doubt that in all these things, Peter too shares the same crown!

Paul is telling Timothy that in Paul’s own weakness, the Lord stood by him and gave him the power he needed so that through him the whole ‘Jesus is Lord’ message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear.  In this way Paul (as well as those who hear him and accept the faith!) was rescued from the lion’s mouth.  Since the Lord did this, he will continue to do so and will rescue Paul from all evil attempts on him and bring him safely to God’s heavenly kingdom.  Again, what Paul is referring to here, also happened to Peter as well.  The Lord was his strength when Peter was weak as we heard in the first reading and also in the Gospel.

But both Paul and Peter could say that the Lord was their strength because they were ready to fight the good fight till the end, to run the race to the finish and especially to keep the faith.

The Lord can also be our strength if we are ready to let the Lord work in us.  The Crown of righteousness can also be ours as long as we have faith and continue to keep it till the end.  The Lord can continue to be glorified for ever and ever as long as we are ready to imitate these two ‘pillars of the Church’ who at the birth of the first Christian communities where ready to ‘keep their faith’ and give evidence to it!  Are we ready to imitate them?

“Lord, the Church is presenting Saints Peter and Paul to us so we can imitate them in their faith.  Give us your strength in our weakness so that we too can be able to keep the faith regardless of whatever happens.  Thank you Lord!”

“Lord, the Church is presenting saints Peter and Paul for us to imitate them in their faith.  Give us your strength in our weekness to be able to keep the faith, whatever happens.  Thank you Lord!”

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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