June 29, 2008
Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Cycle A

First Reading: Acts 12:1-11
Psalm 34
Second Reading:
Tim. 4:6-8, 17-18
Gospel: Matt. 16:13-19

Theme: Faith as Process of Determination and Dynamism

Ordinarily today is 13th Sunday of the Ordinary Time, Cycle A of the Church’s Liturgical Year. However, the Church has reserved this day to honour the determination and dynamism of these two primitive saints – Peter and Paul, who were betrayed and martyred under Emperor Nero.

My theme this weekend is “Faith as process of determination and dynamism.”

[Charismatically]: DRINK! STEAL!! SWEAR!!! LIE!!!!

[Pick a parishioner by name]: DRINK, DRINK and DRINK! But No! I am NOT asking you to DRINK or drench yourself to death in alcohol! I am rather asking you to DRINK from God’s “springs of living water” every day in your life.

[Pick a parishioner by name]: STEAL, STEAL and STEAL! But No! I am NOT asking you to STEAL that which belongs to a neighbour. I am asking you to STEAL a moment to help someone whose life situation is in a worse shape than you are.

[Pick a parishioner by name]: SWEAR, SWEAR and SWEAR! But No! I am NOT asking you to SWEAR or use offensive words all over the place. I am asking you to SWEAR that you will be a better person today than yesterday – in your home, in this parish and in this community.

[Pick a parishioner by name]: LIE, LIE and LIE! But No! I am NOT asking you to LIE to defend yourself. I am asking that when you LIE down in bed tonight, you thank the Almighty God for your blessing of the day; that you submit your spirit into God’s hands, praying that you see another day.

The apostles Peter and Paul “drank” from God’s wellsprings of water and they possessed eternal life. They “stole” moments of precious prayerful time to be in conversation with God. They “swore” to be better people than before – from betrayer and assassin. They believed that to “lie” in bed with God is the best gift ever. With this kind of mentality, and despite their stark differences, they shared their conviction and love for Jesus, and have become the “Christophers” – the bearers of Jesus’ gospel message to the ends of the earth. Indeed, they showed a determination and dynamism, which have earned them as indispensable emissaries of Jesus’ teaching of hope of salvation for all who believe in God.

Peter and Paul did not just know facts about Jesus; they KNEW Jesus through an intentional commitment. In their commitment, they cultivated personal relationship with Jesus. Each one of us possesses some of the virtues of Peter and Paul [Peter betraying Jesus, Paul condemning others to death for proclaiming faith in Jesus]. We too go through life like Peter, making great promises in professing faith in Jesus, but then back down when situations become too tough, too demanding or too “political” [Peter promised 3x to die with and for Jesus, but failed]. For us also, we sometimes compromise standing for the Lord just to prevent the crowd – our neighbours from mocking us. To KNOW Jesus therefore, isn’t that "It is Saturday" or "It is Sunday" or "It is a special feast" or that "There is a special celebration at Mass," so I show up to fulfill my “duty” or “obligation" to God.

Peter and Paul applied their imaginations and everything they KNEW about Jesus, and through their imagination, they re-created awareness and gave a new meaning about who Jesus is to us. Thus, I ask, “Who is Jesus to you as a person?” “Who is Jesus to us as Parish and community?”

It is no surprising that Peter and Paul sacrificed the rest of their entire lives for the Word of God, which is “Alive and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow, and is able to discern or judge the thoughts and intentions of the human heart” [cf. Heb 4:12]. As participants at this Eucharist, are we prepared now to follow in the footsteps of Peter and Paul, and be as committed and dedicated in ensuring that the Word of God continues to be active, alive and flourishing from this very moment and onwards?

For this week, I urge that we DRINK from God’s wellsprings and the cup of eternal salvation; that we STEAL precious moments to be at prayer and in conversation with God; that we will SWEAR to be better people than before, and that we will submit our spirit into God’s hands as we LIE in bed!

Father John-Baptist Okai
Priest Moderator
St. Cecilia Parish, Regina SK Canada

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