Posted by: fvbcdm | June 29, 2012

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul (29 June 2012)

I come to my computer on Friday morning, June 29, the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.  So the grandeur of this great feast is still ringing in my years since we have just celebrated Mass in our house chapel.  And I think, too, of the fact that the Pope is conferring the pallium—the insignia of archbishops—on a number of bishops today in Rome and that just a few days ago,  he authorized the use of the term “man or woman of heroic virtue” on a number of people who thus begin their journey toward possible canonization.  This is very significant because one of those people is the American Catholic priest known in our own time as Father Sheen, then Monsignor Sheen, then Bishop Sheen, and finally Archbishop Fulton Sheen.  I used to go to hear his annual talk on the Loyola University Forum in New Orleans during my high school and college days, and came to feel that I knew him personally.  And I’m sure that some of you listening to or reading this message can remember him on radio or television or maybe even in person.

Then, this Sunday we have Jesus the Healer in the gospel of Mass. On his way to heal a child who is gravely ill, this divine power for healing goes out from him and heals a woman who has been chronically ill for twelve years.   When Our Lord gets to the home of Jairus, the synagogue official, he takes with him three of the apostles: Peter, James, and John, and the child’s distraught parents.  They go with him into the child’s sickroom where Our Lord gently but, I suppose, firmly, takes the little girl by the hand and says to her, “Little girl, get up!”  And of course, she does.  Knowing that one who has been seriously ill for some days is usually malnourished, Our Lord tells the parents to give the child something to eat.  He is concerned with restoring life and good health to this child, And here we have one of the very few passages in the gospels in which the Aramaic language is used . . . the very words of Jesus in his own dialect.  Saint Mark was the reporter of the preaching of Saint Peter, so what we find in the gospel according to Mark is what Saint Peter habitually preached in the hearing of his disciple, Mark.   “Talitha koum” (little girl, get up!)  Saint Peter heard those words, repeated them a thousand times during his years of preaching, and now they are indelibly enshrined in the gospel according to Saint Mark.   


Years later, Saint Peter, who had been made the first Pope by Our Lord, came to the end of his life.  Like his beloved Master, he died a martyr’s death—even one by crucifixion according to ancient tradition.  This Friday we celebrate the martyrdoms of Saints Peter and Paul and rejoice that we are among the human “fish” whom Saint Peter, the fisherman, “caught” not with his nets but with his papacy, his preaching, and his glorious death.   Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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