The constancy of St Peter and St Paul

Published on 25 Jun 2020
Statue of St Peter's at St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

Grant us, O Lord…so to live in the Church, that persevering in the breaking of the Bread and in the teaching of the Apostles, we may be one heart and one soul, made steadfast in your love [1].

On the feast of the holy apostles, Saints Peter and Paul, we pray for the strength to be the Church, which Jesus founded. On this rock I will build my Church [2].  We desire to be faithful to Christ who was broken for us on Calvary and who continues to be offered in the Mass.  We seek to persevere in living the apostolic teaching: receiving it, putting it into practice and communicating it to others.  It is the apostolic mission that, through them the whole message might be proclaimed [3].

Unity and love are central to the life of the Church: one heart and one soul.  What we have received from the apostles enables us to be unified in ourselves and united to the rest of the faithful.  Saint Peter and Saint Paul show us how to love the Lord, despite earlier betrayals and rejections.  They teach us to live in caritas; loving others in the manner of Jesus.  The apostles are sources of unity.  They and their successors show us how to remain in the body of Christ.  Persevering in love is better than ‘clinging on’ or even ‘staying on’.  Sometimes we cling to the barque of Peter, but always with a view to being fully united in the One who saves us.  Occasionally we dawdle on the path, which the apostles have shown us.  However, He who is the way, the truth and life [4] is always calling us to a deeper unity and love. 

Made steadfast in your love. Fidelity to Christ, to his teaching shared by the apostles and to his universal love are framed in the Church by a general steadfastness.  I have fought the good fight to the end: I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith [5]. Saint Peter and Saint Paul show us how to persevere with one heart and one soul in our shared commitment to Christ.  Thanks to what they have passed on to us our life is one of communion.  Through union with God we are becoming channels of divine love.  An outpouring of goodness reaches us and diffuses beyond us thanks to what the apostles have done for us.  It was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven [6]. The Church confers on the transformations taking place in us her own faithfulness and reliability.   The apostolic constancy dignifies our zigzagging progress. The heaven-sent steadfastness of Peter and Paul protects our faith, which might otherwise falter, and draws out of us loving service of the Lord’s brothers and sisters. My life is poured away as a libation [7].   The reliability of those to whom the Lord entrusts the Church seeps into us who come after them. Now I know it is all true [8].  The apostles coax us away from fickleness and show us how to put all our trust in God.

The reliability of Saints Peter and Paul is closely connected to the Mass. Persevering in the breaking of the Bread and in the teaching of the Apostles.  The love of God is communicated by the Church.  Even when we are not able to receive communion, or to go to Mass in the usual way, the Lord goes on steadily giving himself to us.  The apostles remind us that from the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary the merciful love of God flows towards us whatever happens.  The blood of the Lord does not merely wash over us: this gift purifies, heals and regenerates.  The body of Christ, broken on the cross, continues to be offered at the altar.  The Father never rejects this offering.  The Holy Spirit has not abandoned us at a difficult time. The Church prays unremittingly [9].  In crisis, we turn even more willingly than usual, to God who steadfastly awaits us.  I sought the Lord and he answered me; from all my terrors he set me free [10]. The rock-like reliability of the Church, which he has given us, reflects unshakeable divine love. If, for the moment, we are held back from communion, we nevertheless benefit from the Church’s fidelity to her Eucharistic task.  Steadily, Peter and Paul, continue the Lord’s work. The binding and loosing [11] affects us all profoundly.  In dignity and freedom, we play our humble part in the household of faith, which the apostles have built on the rock of Christ. I will give you the keys of the kingdom [12]. Overlooking their faults, Jesus made them rock-like. He encourages us to make the most of their constancy.

Persevering in the apostolic faith we are to be one heart and one soul, made steadfast in your love [13].

Constant like Saint Peter and Saint Paul, we seek to serve others, responding to crises and to persistent needs with the love, which has been shown to us.  The body of Christ serves others by being shared with them.  The Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed [14]. Christ has entrusted himself to us to be given to the many who have not heard of him or have been misled about him.  We pray, we live the faith and we share Christ humbly and confidently.   His body is lifted up. The Father accepts the self-offering of the Son, in which we are included.  The Holy Spirit, at work in us, enables us to make good use of the abundance so reliably conferred.  The holy apostles intercede for us: in their heart is our steadfastness and our loving service.

Homily by Fr Peter Gallagher SJ

[1]              Roman Missal, Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Mass during the day, prayer after communion

[2]              Matthew 16.18

[3]              2 Timothy 4.17

[4]              John 14.6

[5]              2 Timothy 4.7

[6]              Matthew 16.17

[7]              2 Timothy 4.6

[8]              Acts 12.11

[9]              Acts 12.5

[10]            Psalm (34) 33.6

[11]            Matthew 16.19

[12]            Matthew 16.19

[13]            Roman Missal, Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Mass during the day, prayer after communion

[14]            2 Timothy 4.17