June 29 is reserved in the Church as the Solemnity of the Sts. Peter and Paul. These two apostles of Christ are incredibly important to the infant Church in the early years after Christ’s triumphant death and Resurrection. Although Paul deserves much praise, I found myself reflecting on St. Peter and his relationship to all of us in the Catholic Church.
As I sat at Vespers this evening, it occurred to me that St. Peter is a perfect model for us in this time of difficulty in the Church. Not only does it seem that the Church is being attacked by the media because of the unacceptable and destructive clerical abuse of children, but also there seems to be much hurt and misunderstanding, it seems to me, in the American Church. At times, I find myself asking the question, why am I being called to serve in a church that seems like it could be pseudo-schismatic? Why would God put me in this position? Am I really worthy enough to pick up the pieces and help bring people back to God? Why did God choose me?
I was starting to feel very discouraged, when I realized that St. Peter was probably asking himself some of the same questions! Consider how it all began for Peter:
“As He was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrews, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, ‘Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed Him. ” (Matthew 4:18-20)
Peter was minding his own business when out of nowhere this Man came and invited he and his brother to give up all and follow Him. It all sounds so romantic, but I would think there would be more of a hesitation than the Gospel passage would suggest. However, the important thing is that the two blue-collar men followed, and the rest is (triumphant) history!
So realizing that I was in the same position as St. Peter, I felt much more empowered about taking on the challenge that Christ has offered me. I gain strength from knowing that the apostles, too, must have had feelings of concern and doubt but yet followed Him faithfully and gained Eternal salvation.
On top of all of this, Peter, despite denying Christ three times(!!), was named first Pope of the Catholic Church. What a perfect model. Just as the Church was founded out of nonbelievers in the early years, so too must WE ALL persevere to re-evangelize the Church. As Pope John Paul II encouraged young people to begin a “new evangelization”, we are in the same position that St. Peter was in. We are facing much division in the Church and must bring back unity. We have a big task ahead, but if St. Peter could begin a Church that would last over 2000 years (and then some) we, too, are capable of this new fight for unity, with the grace of God.
As Christ told Peter that He would ‘be the Rock on which He will build [the] Church”, so must we turn to St. Peter as our Rock in this battle to regain the Church to it’s glory!
“Lord our God, encourage us through the prayers of Saints Peter and Paul. May the apostles who strengthened the faith of the infant Church help us on our way of salvation. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, you Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God, for ever and ever. Amen”