Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul

What do they have in common? Living Faith! What did it consist in? Death to self! Not just martyrdom but conversion away from self. Simon became Peter by entering into the prayer of Christ to the Father which is Who He is. “The Son as Son, and in so far as he is Son, does not proceed in any way from himself and so is completely one with the Father. Since he is nothing beside him, claims on special position of his own confronts the Father with nothing belonging only to him, retains no room for his own individuality, therefore he is completely equal to the Father. The logic is compelling; if there is nothing in which he is just he, no kind of fenced-off private ground, then he coincides with the Father, is ‘one’ with. It is precisely this totality of interplay that the word ‘Son’ aims at expressing. To John ‘Son’ means being-from-another; thus with this word he defines the being of this man as being from another and for others, as a being that is completely open on both sides, knows no reserved area of the mere ‘I.’”[1]  This conversion away from self so as to be “for “the Father and “for” others is the meaning of faith. It is not “a mere revision of a few opinions or attitudes. It is a death event. … It is the replacement of the subject – of the ‘I.’ The ‘I’ ceases to be independent and to be a subject existing in itself. It is torn from itself and inserted into a new subject. The ‘I’ does not perish, but must let itself diminish completely, in effect, in order to be received within a larger ‘I’ and, together with that larger ‘I,’ to be conceived anew.”[2] The New Man: another Christ. That’s what it means to be “Rock” as Peter as Christ is Cornerstone.

And in that giving of the self, feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Feed them with that action and attitude of giving themselves away. This is the meaning of faith, and this is the meaning of believer. They both gave themselves away ultimately – Saul becoming Paul on the occasion of the event of encounter with Christ on the road; Simon in the encounter with Christ praying to the Father as only Christ knew how to do[3] – and they both achieved martyrdom which is the icon of who they were.

[1] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” Ignatius (1990) 134.

[2] J. Ratzinger,  “The Spiritual Basis and Ecclesial Identity of Theology” in The Nature and Mission of Theology´Ignatius (1995) 50-52.

[3] Lk 9, 18 – See Ratzinger’s “Behold the Pierced One,” Thesis 1.

I add Bp Robert Barron:

MATTHEW 16:13-19
Friends, today’s Gospel spells out the importance of Peter’s confession. For it is upon this inspired confession that the Church is built. Not, mind you, on popular opinion, which is shifting and indecisive, and not on personal holiness, which is all too rare. It is built upon the inspired authority of Peter—and I say, “thank God!”

We make this troubling and extraordinary claim that it is through a special charism of the Spirit that Peter and his successors govern the Church. Now, I realize that I have many Protestant readers and that this text has been, between Catholics and Protestants, a stumbling block. Let me clarify what is and is not at stake here.

What is the focus of Peter’s confession? It has to do with who Jesus is. This is the rock upon which the Church is built. We don’t say for a moment that all of Peter’s practical decisions are right, that everything he says is right. But we are saying that he is right about who Jesus is: a man who is also the Son of the living God. And this is the source and ground of the whole operation.

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