Homily for Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul: Full text
The statue of St Peter in St Peter's Basilica, vested in triple tiara and cope for the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul. - OSS_ROM
(Vatican Radio) In his homily for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Pope Francis focused on the themes of “closing” and “opening” in the lives of the two patrons of Rome.
The Church must avoid the risk of closing in on itself out of persecution and fear, the Pope said. At the same time, she must be able to see “the small openings through which God can work.” Prayer, he said, “enables grace to open a way out from closure to openness, from fear to courage, from sadness to joy. And we can add: from division to unity.”
Read the full text of Pope Francis’ prepared homily for the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul:
Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul
29 June 2016
The word of God in today’s liturgy presents a clear central contrast between closing and opening. Together with this image we can consider the symbol of the keys that Jesus promises to Simon Peter so that he can open the entrance to the kingdom of heaven, and not close it before people, like some of the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees whom Jesus reproached (cf. Mt 23:13).
The reading from the Acts of the Apostles (12:1-11) shows us three examples of “closing”: Peter is cast into prison; the community gathers behind closed doors in prayer; and – in the continuation of our reading – Peter knocks at the closed door of the house of Mary, the mother of John called Mark, after being set free.
In these three examples of “closing”, prayer appears as the main way out. It is a way out for the community, which risks closing in on itself out of persecution and fear. It is a way out for Peter who, at the very beginning of the mission given him by the Lord, is cast into prison by Herod and risks execution. While Peter was in prison, “the church prayed fervently to God for him” (Acts 12:5). The Lord responds to that prayer and sends his angel to liberate Peter, “rescuing him from the hand of Herod” (cf. v. 11). Prayer, as humble entrustment to God and his holy will, is always the way out of our becoming “closed”, as individuals and as a community.
Paul too, writing to Timothy, speaks of his experience of liberation, of finding a way out of his own impending execution. He tells us that the Lord stood by him and gave him strength to carry out the work of evangelizing the nations (cf. 2 Tim 4:17). But Paul speaks too of a much greater “opening”, towards an infinitely more vast horizon. It is the horizon of eternal life, which awaits him at the end of his earthly “race”. We can see the whole life of the Apostle in terms of “going out” in service to the Gospel. Paul’s life was utterly projected forward, in bringing Christ to those who did not know him, and then in rushing, as it were, into Christ’s arms, to be “saved for his heavenly kingdom” (v. 18).
Let us return to Peter. The Gospel account (Mt 16:13-19) of his confession of faith and the mission entrusted to him by Jesus shows us that the life of Simon, the fishermen of Galilee – like the life of each of us – opens, opens up fully, when it receives from God the Father the grace of faith. Simon sets out on the journey – a long and difficult journey – that will lead him to go out of himself, leaving all his human supports behind, especially his pride tinged with courage and generous selflessness. In this, his process of liberation, the prayer of Jesus is decisive: “I have prayed for you [Simon], that your own faith may not fail” (Lk 22:32). Likewise decisive is the compassionate gaze of the Lord after Peter had denied him three times: a gaze that pierces the heart and brings tears of repentance (cf. Lk 22:61-62). At that moment, Simon Peter was set free from the prison of his selfish pride and fear, and overcame the temptation of closing his heart to Jesus’s call to follow him along the way of the cross.
I mentioned that, in the continuation of the passage from the Acts of the Apostles, there is a detail worthy of consideration (cf. 12:12-17). When Peter finds himself miraculously freed from Herod’s prison, he goes to the home of the mother of John called Mark. He knocks on the closed door and a servant by the name of Rhoda comes. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in disbelief and joy, instead of opening the door, she runs to tell her mistress. The account, which can seem comical, makes us perceive the climate of fear that led the Christian community to stay behind closed doors, but also closed to God’s surprises. This detail speaks to us of a constant temptation for the Church, that of closing in on herself in the face of danger. But we also see the small openings through which God can work. Saint Luke tells us that in that house “many had gathered and were praying” (v. 12). Prayer enables grace to open a way out from closure to openness, from fear to courage, from sadness to joy. And we can add: from division to unity. Yes, we say this today with confidence, together with our brothers from the Delegation sent by the beloved Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to take part in the celebration of the Holy Patrons of Rome. Today is also a celebration of communion for the whole Church, as seen by the presence of the metropolitan archbishops who have come for the blessing of the pallia, which they will receive from my representatives in their respective sees.
May Saints Peter and Paul intercede for us, so that we can joyfully advance on this journey, experience the liberating action of God, and bear witness to it before the world.
SS Peter and Paul 2016
HOMILY OF ABBOT PAUL, BELMONT
“I have kept the faith,” wrote St Paul. At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter replied on behalf of the Twelve, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” On the road to Damascus, Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” It was the Christ, the Son of the living God, who replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Both Peter and Paul came to believe, not through human inspiration but divine revelation, that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God. That discovery of faith bought with it the realization that they had also been chosen and called by him to be his apostles, and this in spite of their human weaknesses, idiosyncrasies and sinfulness. “My grace is enough for you.” Through grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit, Peter and Paul became passionate lovers of Jesus Christ and lived their lives for him alone. “It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
Beside the Sea of Galilee, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” That affirming of love, which cannot be separated from his earlier declaration of belief, led Peter to over thirty years of fruitful ministry, above all in the Jewish community. Paul, whose mission of over thirty years was to the Gentiles, wrote to the Corinthians, “If I have prophetic powers, and understand all the mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Love separated from faith can become a dangerous emotion, while faith separated from love can become sterile and sectarian. Faith has to be lived in love, while love can only be truly experienced in a life of faith and service. We live in difficult times to be men and women of faith. The forces of evil, often camouflaged as good, are ranged on every side against us, but persecution strengthens the Church.
The example and teaching of Peter and Paul encourage us not to give in but to persevere, and to do so with joy and confidence. Always remember Peter’s miraculous escape from prison: he thought he was seeing a vision. “Now I know it is all true. The Lord really did send his angel and has freed me.” There can be no faith without love, nor faith without martyrdom or love without suffering. Paul wrote to Timothy, “The Lord stood by me and gave me power. The Lord will rescue me from evil and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.”
This then is what it means to keep the faith: to live a life firmly rooted in Christ and grounded his love, so that everything we believe, do and say, are one and the same. We become the person God created us to be. At the last supper, Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” Just as in Jesus we see the Father and come to know him, so in Peter and Paul we see Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Today we pray that we may come to see and know Jesus in ourselves and in one another. Only then we will be able to say with Peter and Paul, “I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness.” I have kept the faith.
THE HOLY AND GREAT COUNCIL
Holy and Great Council: Documents and Initial Reaction
The whole article was posted by Nicholas Denysenko in Church Reform, Eastern Liturgy, Ecumenism, Uncategorized | No Comments
....The actual occurrence of the Council permitted the bishops to debate and revise the preconciliar documents and proclaim them, along with a message and encyclical to the world. These documents are already generating heated and passionate debate, especially since the Orthodox Church has now defined itself as the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church – the council has no clause of “subsistit in.” Orthodoxy has proclaimed herself to be “the authentic continuation of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” (Encyclical, I.2). In the document on relations of Orthodoxy with the rest of the Christian world, the Council taught that “the Orthodox Church accepts the historical name of other non-Orthodox Christian Churches and Confessions that are not in communion with her.” This ambiguous statement is already generating heated debate, but the reader might note the absence of traditional polemical nouns used to depict non-Orthodox which one can find in anti-ecumenical literature, such as “heretics,” “schismatics,” and “heterodox.”
Of course, the documents cover much more material, and there are some Orthodox who would have liked to have seen a broader manifestation of aggiornamento in the Council’s work. One cannot assume that these documents will be binding: only time will tell if the Orthodox Church will receive these teachings. Certainly there will be much theological analysis and proposals for ongoing work. This effort is needed, and I hope the Orthodox bishops will partner with theologians to continue to address the most pressing issues of world and Church. I also hope that the non-Orthodox who want to dialogue with us will push us on these issues: our job in dialogue is to hear you, just as you hear us with consistent graciousness....