Saint Peter and Saint Paul 2014
This short homily was written by a young guest, staying at Belmont this past week, who has just had a First in Theology.
In the Gospel today, we hear Peter's profession of faith in Jesus as Christ and Son of the living God. Peter's profession contrasts with the rejection of Jesus by the Pharisees, who in the preceding verses of Matthew sought to put him to the test by asking for a sign. The themes of Peter's profession have their root in Davidic Messianism. Matthew shows Jesus to be the fulfillment of God's promise to David in 2 Samuel: "I shall appoint your heir to succeed you. I shall be a father to him and he a son to me".
The Gospel today, then, is about the establishment of a new community; one which acknowledges the true identity of Jesus. The work of this community is witnessed in today's first reading. After Peter's miraculous escape from the prison of Herod, he goes to the house of Mary, mother of John Mark, where "a number of people had assembled and were praying". God hears the prayers of the fledgling community and returns to them Peter, their rock.
Peter's situation in today's first reading resembles that of Paul's in the second. Written whilst in Roman captivity, Paul's second letter to Timothy warns that miraculous rescue from suffering is not always to be expected as a matter of course. Instead we are called to imitate the example of Paul; in his own words: keeping the faith; running the race to the finish.
Perhaps we may not be called by God to suffer in the same way Paul suffered, but his attitude in the second reading belies a mindset which we can readily take with us into own lives; that of surrendering our will entirely to God, placing all our trust and faith in Him. As the Psalmist writes: "he is happy who seeks refuge in Him".
As members of the community that is built upon the rock of Peter, let us follow the example of Paul and those gathered in Mary's house, and put our trust in God, as we pray that we may always be faithful in our witness to Jesus as Christ and Son of the ever-living God.