This weekend St. Peter Parish is celebrating its patronal feast day, transferred to Sunday from June 29. This is permitted during the season of Ordinary Time so that more parishioners may participate in its observance.
Saint Peter usually receives the greater attention on this day. The First Reading and the Gospel are about Peter. In the Gospel Simon’s profession of faith in Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” merited for him not only a name change to Peter—a play on the word petra, meaning “rock”—but also the “keys to the Kingdom of heaven” and the power of binding and loosing. He was from the beginning recognized as the chief among the apostles. Since Peter was martyred in Rome, the bishop of that city came to be known as his successor and the chief among the bishops of the whole church. The primacy of the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, will be celebrated on June 29 at Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, built over the site of Peter’s burial, with the imposition of the pallium upon all metropolitan archbishops appointed in the past year.
We also celebrate the legacy of Saint Paul, converted from persecutor to apostle, from whom emanated the largest body of New Testament writings apart from the gospels. This first Christian missionary, the Apostle to the Gentiles, was inspired by God to proclaim the gospel persistently, whether convenient or inconvenient. (Cf. 2 Timothy 4:2) Writing from imprisonment in Rome, Paul looked back over his life’s ministry: “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it.” (Second Reading) We are the heirs of this legacy of faith, handed down to us by the Church. It is up to us to live by what we have received, so that this living evangelical tradition may continue.
At St. Charles the Gospel and First Reading for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time speak of hospitality which is rewarded by God. The heart of hospitality is generosity rooted in love of neighbor. The reward of one who gives “only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple” is echoed in the last-judgment parable in Matthew 25:40: “[W]hatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” The command earlier in today’s Gospel to forsake even one’s family and to be willing to lose one’s life for Christ’s sake ought to be a consequence of our baptism. Saint Paul in today’s Second Reading states that we baptized have died with Christ and shall also live with him. So let us think of ourselves as “dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.” Sin is self-interest; Christian discipleship demands selfless love of God and neighbor. Christ’s crucifixion is the greatest manifestation of selfless love which he calls his disciples to imitate in self-denial, generosity and hospitality.
Perhaps there is presented here the heart of the gospel message. There is no easy way to heaven and alone we cannot attain it. Therefore we must not rely on ourselves alone, but have faith in God, who “delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14) This, of course, is God’s grace, which overflowed for the many in God’s gracious gift to us of his Son, Jesus Christ. (Cf. today’s Second Reading.) The cost and sacrifices required to be truly Christian are great, but well worth it. The reward is eternal life.
Our parishes’ fiscal year ends on June 30. Neither parish should have any outstanding bills by the end of the fiscal year, thanks to the PPP loans and the many parishioners who continued to support the parishes despite not being able to attend Mass. My main concern now is meeting our targets for the Diocesan Annual Appeal. As of last Monday both parishes had about $2,700 to go. A lot of progress has been made since last week! Pledges to the Diocesan Annual Appeal must be received by June 30 to be credited for this year. If you have not yet done so, please consider a one-time gift to the Diocesan Annual Appeal to help our parishes meet their financial obligations by the end of the fiscal year. Whatever is given beyond their targets comes back to our parishes 100%. Your attention to our parishes’ financial goals is greatly appreciated.
Pray the rosary this week for our country as we approach Independence Day on Saturday. Pray for the four new priests ordained for our diocese this past Saturday. Pray for the needs of our parish and diocese and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.