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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

Thursday, June 29, 2023

by Fr. David M. Knight

June 29, 2023 is the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul (591 The readings at Mass during the day are Acts 12:1-11; Ps 34: 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9; 2Tm 4: 6-8, 17-18; Mt 16:13-19 and can be found here:

Peter and Paul (c. A.D. 64, 67) are celebrated as Apostle and Martyrs together on June 29. The church (diocese) of Rome was founded on both Peter and Paul, called the “two Coryphaei” or “leaders of the chorus,” whose heads are both on the papal seal. They welded into one communion the authority of Peter and the leadership of Paul. Peter was the “first” (protos: Matthew 10:2) among the apostles — “the first to be called, the first to be named in the list of the apostles (Matthew 10:2 calls him protos, primus, first), the first to confess that Jesus is the Messiah, the first of the apostles to see the risen Lord (1Corinthians 15:5), the first to proclaim the kerygma of good news (Acts 2:14)” and for the Acts of the Apostles the most important personality in the first days of the apostolic church.

Peter, the apostle to the Jews (Galatians 2:6-9), represented the authority of the original church. Paul, however, the apostle to the Gentiles, had a dif­ferent kind of “primacy” that was charismatic rather than insti­tutional. Paul bore witness to the abso­lute, radi­cal au­thority of the Word over everything and ev­ery­one. Peter and Paul could have divided the early Church. But they re­mained united and died in com­munion with each other in the same city. The two “primacies” met at Rome, intermingling in the blood of martyrdom. There the ‘glorious witnesses’ welded into one communion the leadership of the protos [Peter, the “first” among the apostles] and the authority of the prophet [Paul]. The Christian community at Rome, the church of their witness, had indeed existed before the Spirit impelled them there. It now became the place of total, perfect confession of the apostolic faith, with no split in its faithfulness both to its roots in the his­torical group which Jesus had gathered during his earthly min­istry [through Peter] and to the new experi­ence of the Spirit of the resurrection [through Paul]. Hence the privilege of this local church, and so of her see and cathedra. Hence also her special calling: the communion of the witness of Peter and that of Paul which had been entrusted to her — engraved in her, so that she became the living memory’ among all the churches. That is why the church in Rome has been en­trusted with the special task of keeping all the churches in the world faithful to the unity to which their death bore witness.

The reflection below is for Thursday of week 12 of Ordinary time in the Year A1 cycle when the date is not June 29. The readings would be: LECTIONARY 374 (Gn16: 1-12, 15- 16; Ps 106: 1-2, 3-4, 4-5; Mt 7: 21-29) God Is Good The Responsorial (Psalm 106) reminds us never to doubt God’s goodness. On the contrary, no matter how bad things seem, we should keep saying, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. Genesis 16: 1-16 shows us that God is good to us even when we bring pain on ourselves. Sarai told her husband Abram to have children by her slave Hagar. He did, but when her advice backfired and Hagar despised Sarai for her barrenness, Sarai blamed Abram and began to abuse Hagar. So Hagar ran away. Enter God. He sends an angel to tell Hagar to go back and submit to Sarai’s meanness because, even though Hagar brought it on herself by despising Sarai, God will make it up to her: “I will make your descendants so numerous that they will be too many to count.” This squared things for Hagar. Happy ending: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.” He never abandons us. One of the greatest dangers in ministry is discouragement. Ministry always aims, in some way or degree, at conversion. Even healing ministry seeks to help people believe more in God’s love for them, which is a conversion. But true conversion depends on grace and free will, neither of which is under the minister’s control. So there is never a predictable cause-and-effect result we can count on from our ministry. We just have to do our best and leave the rest to God. Whether we see results or not we say always, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. We could aim at and possibly achieve other results than conversion. In Matthew 7: 21-29 Jesus seems to play down eloquent preaching and exhortation (“prophesying”), driving out demons and working miracles — not that these are bad; they just aren’t necessarily good. What is good? What can we aim that we can be sure is fruitful to ourselves and to others? The answer is decisions. Ministry, like the spiritual life itself, is fruitful when it leads to decisions in response to God’s word. “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” Ministry that does not produce decisions is as futile as house building on a sandy slope: when put to the test, anything it seemed to have accomplished will slide downhill. But decisions and concrete actions that put Christ’s words into practice are the hardest thing to produce. Ministers can only focus on living out in action themselves what they exhort others to do, and then leave the results to God. The Mass is a “sacrifice of thanksgiving.” That is what the word Eucharist means. We not only read God’s words, but we remember (and make present) his “great deeds,” especially his death, resurrection and ascension into heaven as a promise to return. Jesus died without seeing any significant visible results from his ministry. But he says with us in every Mass: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.

Initiative: Be a priest. Focus on fidelity in action, not success.

1 Exodus 34:6; see the Jerome Biblical Commentary on John 1:14.

2 See Hebrews 6:13 to 7:25; Romans 12:1-2; John 6:51; Colossians 1:24.

3 Galatians 5:22.

Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry

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