Today’s Gospel: Matthew 16:13-19
St. Peter never failed to deliver in his zealous responses to Jesus. In the case of today’s Gospel, he quickly and unabashedly responded to the question, “Who do you say that I am?” with, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”
What is so beautiful about this saint, whose feast we commemorate today along with St. Paul, is that both he and St. Paul were just like us in many ways: prone to anger, speaking out of turn, living a life far removed from Christianity and perhaps even participating in persecution or slander of others’ reputations. Yet their weaknesses became their greatest allies when they were tempered with the appropriate counterpart to their personalities: passion becomes the spiritual gift of zeal, persecution becomes the spiritual gift of fear of the Lord and working for justice and truth.
Of course, like any aspect of human temperament, these characteristics we all carry are like a double-edged sword: prone to sin if used in one manner, but holding the potential for great sanctity if used for God’s greater glory. One might wonder how persecution could ever be used for God’s greater glory, and of course, persecution itself is not a virtue.
But perhaps the pure motive that drove St. Paul to persecution was his thirst for justice, which was (pre-conversion) manifested in a disordered fashion. Post-conversion, God purified the gift of justice so that St. Paul would no longer persecute others whom he felt disobeyed the law, but rather so that he would instead work to spread the hopeful message of the Messiah.
Both Ss. Peter and Paul are considered the first founders of the See of Rome, with St. Peter obviously becoming our first Pontiff during the moment showcased in today’s Gospel, in which Jesus hands him the keys to the kingdom of Heaven in – what we would understand today – to be ordination.
Let us consider, as wives and mothers, what it means to support and encourage our children to discern rightly the unique vocation to which they are called; this means that if they desire to pursue religious life, it would be wise to prompt them to do so. The more exposure our children have to holy men and women of all vocations – be they married couples, those consecrated singles, and sisters, brothers and priests – the more they will realize their souls are drawn to a particular way of life.
Today let us consider for a few moments the ways in which we support our priests and religious; perhaps we can offer a prayer for our dear Pope Francis today and all of the cardinals, bishops, priests and seminarians. Let us pray for an increase in generosity for the hearts of many young people to respond to the call to a religious vocation, including our own children. Let us teach them how to give all to God by living our own vocation in a sacred manner.
Am I modeling holiness to my children? Do I encourage my children to understand what a vocation means and how to discern theirs? Do I speak with love about priests and all consecrated religious?
Heavenly Father, gift me today with the zeal of Ss. Peter and Paul, that I may model holiness to my children and that I may rightly discern through the gifts of good counsel and prudence how to encourage them to discover their own path to holiness.
Copyright 2014 Jeannie Ewing