Homily for June 29th, 2016:
AYou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.@ In Jesus= language, Aramaic, the words for Peter and Rock were the same. In calling his friend, Simon, APeter,@ Jesus was giving him a new name: ARock.@
In reality, Peter was anything but rocklike. When, on the night before he died, Jesus told Peter that within hours Peter would deny him three times, Peter protested: AEven though I have to die with you, I will never disown you.@ (Mt. 26:34f) We all know the sequel: Jesus was right, Peter wrong.
Jesus gave the position of leadership of his Church to the friend whose love was imperfect; whose impetuosity and weakness made the name Jesus gave him C Rock C ironic: as ironic as calling a 350-pound heavyweight ASlim.@ Before he was fit to become the Church=s leader, however, Peter had to experience his weakness. He had to become aware that without a power greater than his own, he could do nothing.
With Peter the Church honors the Apostle Paul. His call was as surprising as the choice of Peter to be the Church=s leader. Who could have imagined that the Church=s arch-persecutor, Saul, would become its first and greatest missionary, Paul? If Peter was impulsive, impetuous, and often weak, Paul was hypersensitive, touchy, subject to wide swings of mood: at times elated, at others tempted to self-pity. No one who knew Paul would ever have accused him of Ahaving it all together@ C to use modern jargon.
Is there anything like that in your life? When you look within, do you see any of Paul=s touchiness, or Peter=s impetuosity and weakness? Take heart! You have a friend in heaven C two friends, in fact: Peter and Paul. The same Lord who gave the vacillating Simon the name of ARock@; who summoned the Church=s arch-enemy, Saul, to be her great missionary, Paul, is calling you. In baptism he made you, for all time, his dearly loved daughter, his beloved son. He called you to be not only his disciple, but an apostle: his messenger to others. You say you=re not fit for that? You=re right. Neither am I! God often calls those who, by ordinary human standards, are unfit. But he always fits those whom he calls.
God has a plan for your life, as surprising and wonderful as his plans for Peter and Paul. Knowing this, and aware of how God was accomplishing his plan in Paul=s own life, Paul could write: AI am sure of this much: that he who has begun the good work in you will carry it through to completion, right up to the day of Christ Jesus@ (Phil. 1:6).
Those words are part of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. And the best news of all is simply this. The only thing that can frustrate the accomplishment of God plan C for you, for me, for any one of us C is our own deliberate and final No.