Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle C

Sts. Peter and Paul

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Mt. 16:13-19

"… on this rock I will build my Church"

The rock-strength security of the Church of Jesus Christ was assured from the beginning, but that did not mean that the Church would be exempt from internal problems or from external pressures. The early Church learned this very quickly. So we hear of immediate persecution by the Jewish authorities, with James beheaded and Peter imprisoned, and Paul many times beaten and stoned, and communities scattered. We hear also of debates and arguments within the Church. Jesus did not leave a community with ready-made answers to every question. They had to work out the implications of being followers of Jesus, involving a break with the Jewish synagogue, admission of gentiles, development of new forms of worship, new practices and new structures. It all took time and effort and today’s two saints were at the very start of it all.

Both Peter and Paul took the Gospel to Rome, the centre of the world as they knew it. Peter, whose confession of faith in Christ was absolute, was the Rock of Strength on which the Church would rest. Paul, called by direct revelation of the Risen Lord, was the pioneer of mission to the Gentiles. Both were martyred whilst there was still so much to be settled in the life and mission of the Church. But they had the word of Jesus himself to rely on - that he would be with his followers always, to the end of time. They trusted in his word and so they never hesitated in their service. In the long-term he would make all their efforts fruitful. We pray that their faith may strengthen us in our own struggles for genuine renewal in the Church in our time, and in her mission to today's world. It will be a long and difficult process, but we have the word of Jesus: he will be always with us.