|Solemnity of Saints Peter and
Psalms 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Second Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18
Walking across St. Peter's Square several weeks ago, I was struck by two things: the renewed façade of the Basilica and the two imposing statues of Saints Peter and Paul standing as sentries, silent witnesses to the world that God lives and that Jesus is Lord.
Like the façade of St. Peter’s, both Peter and Paul had transforming experiences that gave them new life by recasting their old ways—from fisherman and pharmacy, to follower and preacher; from doubter and persecutor, to believer and proselytizer.
Both disciples escaped from prison assisted by a friend (angel) of the Lord; both faced the future with utter confidence in the power, the presence and the faithfulness of God, in the person of Jesus. And both paid the cost of discipleship as well as reap the rewards.
For our part, today’s reflection takes two distinct yet complementary paths. The gospel account of Peter’s acknowledgment that Jesus is the Messiah is played over and over again in our lifetime. For whenever we are faced with fear, doubt or confusion, we have to answer again that key question, "who do you say that I am?” It is one’s faith in Jesus as Lord that stills the fear, quiets the doubts and dissipates the confusion. In those many personal, private and public, acts of faith we recommit ourselves to walk with the Lord as women and men of gospel values.
Here is where the second theme intersects the first. Paul’s letter to Timothy contains the validation, the answer that allows our acts of faith to be authentic and life-giving. “For the Lord stood by my side and gave me strength, so that through me the preaching—teaching, nursing, serving—task might be completed…”
Paul also notes “The Lord continues to rescue us from those who would do us harm.” With that assurance, our acts of faith, our acknowledgment that Jesus is Lord, can be made with complete confidence. But should that not be enough for you, the Psalmist assures us, "The angel of the Lord will rescue those who respect (fear) the Lord.” That works for me!
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