Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

26.06. 2023 | Homily, News

 

The readings for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, are available HERE.

Paul said the Christians in Ephesus were “members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone”. Today we honour two of the apostles, Peter and Paul. Those are not their original names. Peter was Simon: in Hebrew it is שִׁמְוֹן, which means “one who listens”, and Paul was Saul, or שָׁאוּל, “the one his parents asked for”. But they were both known by other names with ironic meanings. Paul means “tiny”, but in spreading the Gospel of Christ he became great. Peter means “rock”, but he was not very solid. He was indecisive and even denied his friend and teacher Jesus three times.

Today we see the strong side of Peter. Jesus takes his disciples to a place in the mountains called Cæsaræa Philippi: it was named after Philip the Tetrarch, the son of Herod the Great. It is a Roman name, but the local name is Banyas, because the place where Jesus takes his disciples is named after Pan, the god of nature: it was a pagan shrine. Many people in Scandinavia say the forest is their cathedral. A few days ago pagans and Druids were in Stonehenge in England for the summer solstice. In just such a famous pagan shrine in Israel, Jesus asks his disciples who people think the Messiah is, because “Son of Man” is another name for “Messiah”. The disciples tell him that people think the Messiah is Elijah or Jeremiah or another prophet, maybe even John the Baptist. His next question surprises them, because he suddenly asks them about himself; he is not asking them what other people think, but asks them directly, “who do you say I am?” The one who answers is Simon called Peter: “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. Jesus says that God has blessed Peter, because this answer could not have come from a human being. God’s Spirit is speaking through Peter. Peter is the rock upon which Jesus will build his Church, and not even the devil can overcome Christ’s Church.

It is vital to understand that neither Peter nor Paul could have carried out their mission without God’s grace. Paul knew that he was weak, but it was when he admitted it that God was able to use him as a great preacher and teacher. In the same way, when Peter admitted he was a sinner and told Jesus to go away, Jesus gently but firmly told him not to be afraid. Many of us are tempted to hide our weakness, our sins and our failings, but these two apostles were great in God’s eyes precisely because they admitted to themselves and to God that they were not perfect.

I have a question for you. If Jesus walked in now and pointed to you and said, “who do you say I am?” what would you say? That is not likely to happen, but sometimes people ask us why we believe in God or why we go to Mass on a Sunday. How would you answer them? People need an explanation, and you may be the person they ask. Don’t tell them to read the Bible. They want to know why your faith is important to you; they want to know what difference faith makes in your life, and the only person in the world who can answer that question is you. Saint Peter wrote in his first letter, “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence”.

Fr. Peter

 

We have a new Faroese Catholic.

Sofía í Garði from Strendur was received into Full Communion with the Catholic Church on Saturday 17th June, in Saint Norbert’s church in Vejle. She is studying music in Aarhus, so could not be received into the Church here in Tórshavn. The officiating priest was Father Gregor Pahl O. Præm., and Sofía’s godfather is Janus Guttesen. Welcome, Sofía. We promise to continue praying for you, and ask the Holy Spirit to keep you strong in your faith.

 

 

 

 

 

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