Pastoral Sharings: "Saints Peter and Paul"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Saints Peter and Paul
June 29, 2014

Today we celebrate the feast of two great saints; saints
we consider, after Christ, to be the very cornerstones of
the Church.

Two great saints and yet two very human creatures. Paul
the persecutor of Christians; Peter who denied Christ three times. And yet it is entirely typical of the way God deals with his people that these two unlikely characters should become such important figures in the establishment of the Church.

God chooses the weak to confound the strong. And he so often intervenes in the lives of the most unlikely people so as to bring about a conversion. A complete turn around; so that instead of undermining the action of God in the world they actively promote it.

Two great saints so well balanced with complimentary gifts. Peter, the Prince of Apostles, the touchstone of unity in the Church to this very day. And Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, the first and the greatest Christian Missionary.

These two poles of unity and mission are the hallmarks of the Catholic Church. They are at the root of our faith and each one of us needs to reflect them in our own lives. We need to constantly review our lives to see we are actively building up the unity of the Church and that we are also widening its boundaries.

You might say that this is too big a task for one person and you would be right. But nothing will be done unless each one accepts his or her share of responsibility for these things.

You can get a situation where everyone thinks that unity within the parish is a good idea but yet nobody does much about it; then all you need are one or two people who act divisively and everything falls apart.

Each one of us must actively strive to build up unity within our Christian community. That means we must work together, socialise together and pray together. If no one did any work around here, if no one bothered to socialise and if no one took the trouble to pray or worship together this would not even be a parish.

Thankfully we do all these things. We do them all quite well, but, as our schoolteachers so often told us, we could do better. Take those three things, working, socialising and praying, and let each of us resolve to do a little more in each of these areas and you would see this parish transform from a good one to a really excellent one.

The same goes for the family. There we have also to work, socialise and pray together in order to be a fully functioning family. I think we have the ideal opportunity to do these three things around the family table.

When we prepare a meal there is work to be done and it shouldn’t all fall on one person. The food needs to be bought and prepared, the table must be set, the food served, the dishes washed and everything cleared up. When each person plays his or her part the whole family works together smoothly and we all feel better as a result.

Because of the different generations within the family socialising can sometimes be difficult. We don’t all like the same kinds of music or the same kinds of trips out. But around the table we generally have little problem socialising with each other, we can share our experiences and no one needs to dominate. It is really not so difficult to avoid arguments for an hour at mealtimes!

We know that prayer is quite often difficult within the family. It was perhaps OK when we were little and our parents helped us to say our prayers. But as we grow older it can feel embarrassing and we don’t all have the same degree of faith, and while it might be fine to worship alongside each other in Church it is not quite so easy to pray together in the home.

But grace before meals is still considered an acceptable ritual. We should take care not to lose it and if we have lost it we should try to reinstate it. Perhaps we might introduce it on a special occasion and then try to keep it going on Sundays or whenever we sit down as a family to eat.

A good way is for someone to say the simple prayer that we know so well: Bless us O Lord and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord. Then perhaps each one could briefly say aloud some intention they would like the others to pray for and then draw it together by saying: God bless the cook!

The family meal can provide us with a means of working on these three important areas of work, socialisation and prayer which can build up our families and make them really united.

That was unity—which we think of as symbolised by Peter, how about mission—which we think of as symbolised by Paul?

If we were to briefly define it we could say that mission is witness to the Gospel of Christ. We can give this witness in hundreds of ways.

This very building is a witness to Christ; the fact that many of our facilities are available for use by the community is a witness to his Gospel. The crucifix on your living room wall is a witness. The parishioners who visit the housebound and the hospital give witness. Just by coming to mass this morning you give witness—your neighbours know quite well where you are going!

Sending your children to a Catholic School, helping with the various societies in our parish, speaking up on an issue of justice at work, going to a funeral, all these give witness. Even the smallest of things can give testimony to Christ and so help build up his kingdom here on earth.

We are aware that the world is growing more and more secular and we might feel that the Gospel values are no longer reflected in the media and in the life of our nation. I was at a state run secondary school recently and I was appalled at how few of the pupils knew the Our Father. Just from a cultural perspective this is a real deficiency.

There is no doubt at all that we Christians really have to do more on a national and local level to evangelise our society. But again this is not something that can be left to a few. All of us must play a part. We cannot be anonymous Christians in our world. We have to be identifiable.

People will not be convinced by slogans or advertising, they will only be convinced by persons and we are those persons. Our task is to stand up and be counted for who we are and to demonstrate by our lives that Christ is our Lord and that we have found salvation in him.

Saints Peter and Paul are our models and our guides and our real helpers in all these tasks. As they did we too can with the grace of Christ overcome our human weaknesses and be involved in building up the unity of the Church and widening its boundaries.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
June 29, 2014

Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul (Year A)—June 29, 2014
Gospel (Read Mt 16:13-19)

In an exchange that is very familiar to most of us, we read in our Gospel about Jesus asking questions of the apostles. Does it surprise us that He wanted to know, from them, what people thought about Him? Was it really the case that He didn’t know? Or did He perhaps have a deeper purpose in quizzing them? In answering, the apostles tell Him that people thought of Him as a very holy man, surely a prophet in the spirit of the great ones: John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah. However, Jesus wants to know: “But who do you say that I am?”

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul: They Couldn’t Even Tweet
If only St. Peter was on facebook! He would have had a whole bunch of friends. People from all over the world could have seen pictures of him entering Rome, standing in the forum, waving from a seat in the Colosseum, eating gelato at the chariot races. People in China could have read his sermons.

If only St. Paul could have tweeted. He would have followers everywhere. They could have read his reactions to the Galatians returning to Judaism in only 140 words or less. He would have had to condense his Letter to the Romans a bit, or extend it over a few hundred tweets, but he still would have been very popular.

Saints Peter and Paul, Cycle A — Modern
Matthew 16: 13-19

As is appropriate for two men who were constantly in danger during the course of their apostolic ministries, the Lord’s desire and ability to rescue those in trouble is made clear in each of the readings and in the responsorial Psalm on the feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul.

The passage from the Acts of the Apostles describes how Peter miraculously escaped from imprisonment when an angel appeared to him and: “The chains fell from his wrists… they passed the first guard, then the second, and came to the iron gate leading out to the city, which opened for them by itself”. Thinking over this remarkable series of events Peter concludes, “I know for certain that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod” (Acts 12:7-10).

Reflections for Sunday, June 29, 2014 – Proclaiming the Word of God
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. (2 Timothy 4:18)

Wait a minute! This passage sounds a lot like today’s psalm: “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them” (Psalm 34:8). It shouldn’t surprise us, though. One thing Paul became very good at was taking a truth from Scripture and reworking it so that it reflected his experience. This is precisely what he did in today’s passage. Reflecting on his many years of preaching the gospel, he knew that even then, as his life was drawing to a close, God would continue to fulfill the promise proclaimed in this psalm.

Ten Ways to Fall in Love with the Eucharist
The saints are the mad-lovers of Jesus; they were on earth and now are in heaven loving God for all eternity.  In this article, we will give a list of what some saints have said in an excess of love for the most Holy Eucharist. Then we will give ten keys to unlock the treasure-case of gems to love the Eucharist more in our lives! Let us read and meditate on the fire of the saints and the Eucharist:

On Hearing God Speak
How do we hear God speak? It’s a common question, especially in the context of discerning one’s vocation. Many people wish God would appear to them in a vision and tell them what to do, or at least send a text message. But while there have been saints who were blessed with such experiences – St. Catherine of Siena, for example, received a vision at an early age, from which point she knew she would consecrate her life to the service of God – for most of us, God speaks in more subtle, mundane ways.

Falling in Love: Knowing the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an act of love.

It is a love that we express through our thoughts, words, or actions to our good God, Who makes His divine love known to us through His Son and through the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the manifestation of human and divine love in Jesus Christ, True Man and True God, Redeemer and King.  The Sacred Heart of Jesus reveals the depths of God’s love for us.

Church is essential for faith; there are no ‘free agents,’ pope says
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians are not made in a laboratory, but in a community called the church, Pope Francis said.

At his weekly general audience June 25, Pope Francis continued his series of audience talks about the church, telling an estimated 33,000 people that there is no such thing as “do-it-yourself” Christians or “free agents” when it comes to faith.

Front Row With Francis: The Nature of the Church
After concluding his talks on the gifts of the Spirit, Pope Francis now takes up the subject of the Church, its identity and mission. He began by warmly welcoming everyone as his brothers and sisters. This was a fitting greeting since his address emphasized God’s desire to form a family of people through Fatherly love. During this introduction, the Holy Father centered on the roots of the church in God’s dealings with Abraham.

Finding Forgiveness – Remembering the Purpose of Mass
“I know I have been forgiven because I’ve been to confession, but I don’t feel forgiven! How can I find peace and know that I’m forgiven? ”

This is one of the most frequent questions I get as a priest. A similar question comes up with the problem of forgiving others, “Father,” the person asks, “my business partner screwed me real bad. I’ve tried to forgive him, and I’ve given it all to God, but I still feel resentment and bitterness. I still want revenge. How can I find peace?”

How to be a Hero to the Long-Suffering
Everybody loves a story with a hero’s victorious ending.  Folks rally around watching with sustained interest dramatic battles between good guys and bad guys, or the patient battling an illness laying claim on his body, or the underdog standing up to a corrupt entity.  We love it when, after the blood, sweat, and tears, justice is served and good prevails.  We live vicariously through the hero, feeling triumphant interiorly – although we did nothing more than watch a movie or read a book.  We identify with the hero precisely because we all struggle against evils in our lives, and it is right that we should wish to prevail over them. We make the hero our own because we want to rise victorious, too.

Who Can Enter the Kingdom of Heaven?
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ . . . but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

Jesus teaches that His Father’s will is accomplished through actions, not just words. It’s not sufficient to say, “I believe,” or “I’m sorry.” When our days here end, having merely spoken these words will not have been enough.

Six Practical Ideas for Integrating our Catholic Faith with Work
How do we integrate our faith with our work? If you think about it, most of us will likely spend the majority of our adult (awake) lives in the workplace. A typical eight-hour work day accounts for a third of the total day, with the other two-thirds devoted to sleeping, family, friends, faith, and so on. In the practice of our faith, do we consider the workplace as an opportunity to be open about our Catholic beliefs or do we ignore this vital time and only think about being Catholic the other sixteen hours a day?

Regard Every Man As Better Than You
“Regard every man as better than you are, for without this thought a man is far from God, even though he performs miracles.”   – Nun Magdalina

The Christian life is not a checklist to be filled out. We do not become better Christians by merely making sure all our pious I’s are dotted and our T’s crossed. We are not good Christians because we have massive families, or vote for the right political parties, or go to church every day of the week. A good Christian, a saint, is one who follows Christ, and when a fall occurs, is one who rises up again and continues walking towards the Light.

Am I Too Much Work for God?
I have a hard time accepting that God loves me just the way I am. I experienced abuse growing up, and lived in a very dysfunctional family. My son had cancer and chemo at the age of 13. I married an emotionally, religiously abusive husband. I have a hard time knowing and accepting God accepts and loves me. I feel like maybe I am too much work, even for God. Can you help me?

On Inequality
Envy, it strikes me, is a more dangerous and prevalent sin than greed. Greed wants excess in material goods. Such goods indicate what I think important, my end. Envy means that I refuse to acknowledge my neighbor’s real virtues and accomplishments. As Genesis taught, we can even envy God. We can covet God’s being as the source of good and evil. Greed is earthly and concrete, more forgivable and human. It wants real things.

First the Bait, Then the Hook – a Sober Meditation on Temptation
Satan, it would seem, does not act in an arbitrary manner when trying to tempt us. Rather, he is more of a master hunter carefully setting traps, or a skilled fisherman who carefully studies behavior in order to choose the most effective bait. Satan is calculating and clever.

Sadly, most of us are far less calculating and clever in seeking to avoid temptation and sin.

How Do I Set Up a Home Altar?
Dear Dan, I have heard you speak and mention the importance of having a home altar or dedicated space to pray. I must admit that this is a completely foreign idea to me but it is also intriguing and I believe can help me in my prayer life and maybe my family too. Can you give me some detail about how one would go about setting up a home altar?

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: How Can We Know It’s True?
That’s the theme of the talk I gave last Wednesday. You can see the whole talk here (I’ve also embedded the video, in four parts, below). Here’s a copy of the materials that I handed out: it’ll be easier to follow the talk if you watch (or listen to) the video while reading along:

How to Share the Gospel With People Who Don’t Care
We are in a situation in the West that the Christian church has never experienced before. We have a good news to proclaim, but those who need to hear are deaf.

How A Scientist Sees God in Nature
St. Bonaventure described in his essay “The Mind’s Road to God,” a proto-scientific process for the acquisition of knowledge about the natural world. He explained how we can know God from creation. A child playing outside, for instance, can pick up a leaf and study it, and by doing so, he takes in the “macrocosm” of the world into the “microcosm” of his soul through his senses. This activity is akin to science class for elementary-aged children. They study objects with their senses.

You Know How They Say The Divorce Rate In The Church Is 50%? Prepare To Be Shocked…
It is commonly thought that the rate of divorce in the church is the same as the rate of divorce among those outside the church, supposedly a whopping 50 percent. According to Harvard-trained researcher Shaunti Feldhahn, though, the rate of divorce among church attenders is “maybe 15 percent, maybe 20 percent for all marriages.”

The Man Behind the World’s Largest Catholic Super-Site
In April 2014, published its 11th annual listing of the Top 300 Christian Blogs for Ministry. Included on the list were blogs by Catholics, by evangelicals, by Reformed Christians, and by virtually every branch of Christendom.

And topping that list was New Advent, the Catholic supersite founded and maintained by Denver native Kevin Knight. New Advent captured first place with an Alexa score—a ranking based on factors including traffic and in-bound links—exceeding 41,000.

Overcome Catholic Boredom in Six Easy Steps
On a recent Saturday morning my 13-year-old son said: “Dad, I’m bored. What are we going to do for fun today?” Knowing my youngest son well, I translated this to mean that he was looking for something new and exciting and I was supposed to provide it. This all too frequent discussion with my children has been the cause of considerable reflection of late. As adults, do we also seek frequent engagement and entertainment? Does this desire for fun and excitement ever spill over into how we view our Catholic faith?

I Hated the Idea of Becoming Catholic
It was the day after Ash Wednesday in 2012 when I called my mom from my dorm room at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and told her I thought I was going to become Catholic.

“You’re not going to become Catholic, you just know you’re not Southern Baptist,” she said.

“No, I don’t think so.”

A pause. “Oh boy,” she sighed.

I started crying.

“Fr. Robert Barron on Bill Maher and Biblical Interpretation”
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