HOMILY- MT 16:13-19

WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM? Peter knew the answer to this all-important, decisive question. ‘Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’ That he did know it was the result of an interior illumination, the gift of God the Father, as Jesus affirmed. All of us here share that same faith that Peter confessed; we do so moreover, by virtue of the same heavenly Father who bestowed this saving knowledge on Peter. Our faith too is given us by a special illumination granted us by our Father in heaven.

St. Paul confirms this teaching of Jesus when he writes to the Corinthians “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit. (1C 12:3)”. This Spirit is, as we firmly believe, sent by the Father to us just as he was sent to the Corinthians in the first century. He has guided the Church and strengthened her in the faithful throughout the centuries as He guided and strengthened Peter and Paul in their witness to the truth of the Gospel of Christ Jesus. The example of their fidelity invites us to confidence that He will be with us in our need. We are brought together in this place to form a community of faith that witnesses by our life together to the love of God for his Church. This Church lives in us and become present in this particular place through the fidelity of our life together. Our way of life puts into practice the urgings and recommendations that Paul expressed to the Ephesians: “Be filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, and hymns and spiritual canticles, singing and chanting psalms in your hearts by way of giving thanks always for all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father (Eph 5: 18-20).”

The faith preached by these two apostles has brought all of us here together in a way that nothing else could save only God’s Spirit and his word. It is not the attraction of human friendship, or the gain of material or intellectual advantage that accounts for our presence here. Rather it is the grace of God, the same grace of faith in Jesus as Savior that united Peter and Paul so that in spite of their great differences of temperament, of education and of social class they were one in mind and heart as regards the things that are most important in life, the eternal truths manifested in the mystery of Christ. Like them we are united at the deepest level of our being and of existence. As Paul has put it: “You all are baptized into one body… all have drunk of the same Spirit.”

May we take full advantage of this celebration of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul to make of it an occasion to renew our commitment in faith to our common vocation in the Church of God. We are at one in our belief that Jesus is our divine Savior who gave himself for us that we might be reconciled to the Father and come to share in his glory. May we bear fruitful witness to this living faith by the bonds of charity and mutual service as members of the one Body of Christ, destined for all eternity to give glory to God in the kingdom of the heavenly Father.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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