St Etheldreda's

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Homilies from St Etheldreda's

On the foundation of the Apostles

Posted June 25, 2020

Feast of St Peter and St Paul

What a phenomenal part St Peter and St Paul have played in the history of the Church!  If it were not for St Peter, the Church would not exist, for it was upon him that Christ built his Church: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’.  And if it were not for St Paul – well, if it were not for St Paul, we would not be here now, for God made him light of the nations, the means for bringing the gentile world – that is, me and you – into the Church.  And if, as we believe, the Church will last through eternity, we shall in the end look with amazement upon St Peter and St Paul and say: The whole of our eternity rests on these two!

But this is only so through the sheer grace of God.  For salvation is God’s work through and through.  God does not need any human being to accomplish his plan for the world, to reap from his creation a limitless harvest.  To achieve this, God needs only one person – his beloved Son, the image of his glory.  That is what St Paul means when he tells the Corinthians that the Church has only one foundation, and that is Jesus Christ.  Christ is the single means by which God’s goodness is spread through creation and creation is reclaimed by God.  It is inconceivable that God should need to rely on any human being or any human institution to achieve his sovereign purpose.

But if it is nevertheless true that St Peter and St Paul are also foundational for the Church, then this must mean that Christ, with infinite condescension, has freely chosen to make human beings an integral component in his work of salvation: and not just St Paul and St Peter, but me and you as well.  Christ has chosen us to be foundation stones and building blocks for God’s eternal future.  All of us, by the sheer grace of Christ, are foundational to God’s work of salvation.

Offer your lives anew to Christ today.  Ask him to build upon them something truly beautiful, something eternally meaningful, after his own design.  In our families, in our workplace, in the ordinariness of our daily lives, in all our relationships, we are called to put ourselves at Christ’s disposal so that he may accomplish God’s plan for the world.  See your role as wife, husband, parent as a vocation, as the ordinary means that God will use – in ways you can’t imagine – to accomplish something truly extraordinary.

And if we think all this is rather too pretentious for us frail human beings, bear in mind that if St Peter and St Paul were chosen for a glorious future, it does not appear that they were innately suited to the task.  Peter, the rock on which the Church was built, went on to deny Jesus three times out of cowardice.  Paul, destined to be light of the nations, had sought to devastate the Church through misguided zeal.  Neither of the two had anything to offer but repentance, humility and an intense love of Jesus.  Be humble, kind, gentle, truly loving, really compassionate and faithful people, and God will do the rest.

The author of Ephesians puts it beautifully: ‘You are built upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets, and Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone.  Every structure knit together in him grows into a holy temple in the Lord; and you too, in him, are being built up into God’s temple in the Holy Spirit.’

Fr Tom Deidun

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