June 28, 2020: The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Pastor’s Corner
This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. We honor these two great men of the Church both for their personal sanctity and also for the legacy which they established. In fact, it is not simply the holiness of these saints that we recognize as much as their heroic faithfulness in continuing Christ’s work.
When Christ chose Peter to be his Vicar on earth, it was not because he was yet a great saint. In fact, just seconds after Jesus gives Peter the “keys to the Kingdom,” he says “Get behind me Satan,” because Peter suggested that He avoid Jerusalem and the cross that awaited. Likewise when he was Saul, Paul persecuted the Church with frenzied ferocity, even being complicit in St. Stephen’s stoning. Yet each was called to be a pillar of the Church: Peter as the first Pope, and Paul as the first great missionary and preacher to the Gentiles. Through them, Christ’s power and mission continue today in two important ways. First, through Peter and the Apostles, we can be confident that the sacramental life of the Church is rooted in the very words and power of Christ himself. My own priesthood is anchored in the fact that Bishop Vigneron, who laid hands on me, had hands laid on him in an unbroken succession that can be historically traced all the way back to the Apostles. By virtue of this real, historical and verifiable succession, the sacramental life of the Church exists and thrives. When those in Holy Orders baptize, it is Christ himself who baptizes. When the priest absolves in the confessional it is Christ who absolves, just as He forgave Peter for this three-fold denial. When oils are used for anointing the sick, it is Christ’s Spirit who touches both body and soul. Peter’s office as the Vicar of Christ ensures that the Church’s sacraments are not simply the continuation of ancient rituals and pageantry. Through the office of St. Peter, Christ heals, absolves and becomes present to us.
Second, St. Paul established the evangelical life of the Church though his preaching and ministry. St. Paul’s life and mission are characterized by Christ’s final words “to preach the Gospel to all nations.” His divinely inspired letters reveal that the gifts of the Holy Spirit enliven the various communities which he established. St. Paul’s faithfulness in preaching the Gospel in season and out animate and inspire a whole group of missionaries and disciples who carry Christ’s message to the ends of the earth. Whereas St. Peter ensures that the Christ continues to nourish the Church through the sacraments, St. Paul gives the evangelical and missionary direction to the Church itself. The Church is not simply a club, no matter how holy, but the living Body of Christ meant to share the good news to all. Through Sts. Peter and Paul, Christ’s ministry and message live.
This weekend’s solemnity reminds us that when we are connected with legacy of Sts. Peter and Paul through the sacraments and the evangelical life of Spirit through the Church, Christ comes alive in and through us. During these times of uncertainty, we take solace in the strong connection we have to Christ through the tradition of the saints. Through the intercession of Sts. Peter and Paul, may Christ work powerfully in the lives of all in need here at St. Dominic’s.