Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today our Church celebrates the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, apostles who led very different lives, but who shared the ultimate goals of bringing more people to Christ. St. Peter was a fisherman who followed Jesus throughout his earthly ministry. Peter seemed to alternate between really understanding what Jesus was saying, and completely missing the point. We understand today’s Gospel as Jesus instituting the papacy under Peter. Just four verses later, though, Jesus tells Peter to “get behind me, Satan.” Peter wasn’t perfect, but Jesus chose him to lead his church on earth.
Paul started out as a Pharisee and a vehement persecutor of Christians. It took something as drastic as being knocked off a horse and struck blind for him to have a conversion and accept Christ. Though he began as an opponent of Christ, his change of heart led him to become the “apostle to the Gentiles” and arguably one of the most important figures in Christianity.
God took two people as they were, with all their sins and shortcomings, and stood with them as they led the early Church. If God can forgive their sins and invite them to be co-laborers in his kingdom, what is God calling you to do?
—Jim and Lauren Gaffey. Jim is a science teacher at Saint Ignatius College Prep. Lauren is the Charis Ministries Program Coordinator for the Office of Ignatian Spirituality, and does work for the Midwest Jesuits.
Loving God, as we celebrate the feast of St. Peter, our first pope, and St. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, we ask you to give us the strength to live out the words of Pope Francis: “What gave me the strength to become a Jesuit is the sense of being a missionary. To go out, to take part in the missions, to proclaim Jesus Christ. This is precisely our spirituality, to go out and spread the Gospel.” May we each spread the Gospel through our words and our lives.
—Jim and Lauren Gaffey