Homily for June 29, 2014: Solemnity of Sts. Peter & Paul: Deacon Steve Whiteman

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
Mass During the Day

June 29, 2014

Reading 1 Acts 12:1-11

Responsorial Psalm Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.

Reading 2 2 Tm 4:6-8, 17-18

Gospel Mt 16:13-19

Click here to LISTEN to this week's homily. 


What path is God calling us to follow?

This weekend we celebrate the Feast Day of Saints Peter and Paul, two of the greatest apostles. The historical evidence is lost, but one tradition teaches that they were executed by Nero on the same day in Rome.

Saint Peter was called by Jesus to be our first pope. He was the rock on which Jesus built His Church and was given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. He was given the authority to lead and guide our Catholic Church. That same authority has been handed down to the succession of popes through the years including Pope Francis today.

Saint Paul had a different calling. After a life changing conversion, he became the apostle to the Gentiles. He suffered many hardships in preaching the Gospel. He traveled extensively to spread the Good News and started many faith communities. The letters he wrote to the early Church fill more than half of the New Testament.

As Father Scott Bullock mentioned in the bulletin last weekend, both men were pillars of the early Church despite their weaknesses. Each of them sinned but reconciled with God and were shown great mercy.

God saw in them what they could not discover on their own.

So how do we overcome our weaknesses and recognize which path God is calling us to follow?

How do we know if we are on the right path at this point in our lives?

We can start by looking around us. Does the path we follow seem to lead anywhere? I know in my life I have travelled for long periods with blinders on. When I finally looked up, I found myself wandering in the wilderness like the Israelites of the Old Testament due to my own stubbornness and pride.

St. Paul had one of the most amazing course corrections in his life. As a Pharisee named Saul, he persecuted the early Church. He went from town to town hunting down Christians until God dramatically interceded and showed him a different path to follow. We probably won’t need such a dramatic change in our direction but if we do get knocked to the ground in our life like St. Paul, we may want discern if God is asking us to follow a different path.

We should be aware of the other people traveling with us. Are we willing to help each other stay on the right path? The path of least resistance will lead us off the road and into the ditch. We need to be rumble strips on the edge of the road for each other to keep us from falling asleep at the wheel. 

Sometimes in life we cross paths with people that are different than us. It’s easy to be judgmental and think our path is the only right one and that everyone else is off course. This experience may be a reality check for us or an opportunity be the loving face of Christ to someone else and help them on their journey.

When things change in our life and we run into a dead end, there can be a lot of anxiety in choosing a new path. It’s important to realize we need to keep moving forward on a different path and comforting to know the Holy Spirit is always there to guide us. St. Paul helps us to recognize the Spirit working in our lives in his letter to the Galatians. He talks about the conflict between the good and evil in our lives. There will always be a struggle between the sinful side of our human nature and the Holy Spirit but we can recognize it if we are on the right path. Human nature can take us down a path filled with immorality, hatred, jealousy and anger. On the other hand, if we experience love, joy, peace, patience and self-control we know we are being guided by the Holy Spirit down the right path.

The Church that Saint Peter and Paul started is still here to guide us, to heal us and to nourish us. As we get ready today to be fed by the Eucharist, let us ask Saints Peter and Paul to pray for us that we may be open to the path that God is calling us to follow.

In this life, the path we choose will make all the difference at the end of the journey. When I think about the invitation Jesus gave us to follow Him, a familiar song by David Haas comes to mind:

Come to the song, come to the dance,
Bring all you are, And all you can be.
Come with your voice, come with your heart.
Come and journey with Me.