Ampleforth Abbey

25 February 2018

Echoes of the Word 29th June

Commentary on Matthew 16:13-19

We tend to think of Ss Peter and Paul as martyrs: men who died to bear witness to the faith. This is, of course, why the priest wears red vestments at Mass on their feast. And of course martyrs they were. Their courage and witness in accepting death for Christ should make us mindful of the many Christians throughout today’s world who make that same sacrifice. And yet, perhaps the key to martyrdom comes in St Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy, read at Mass on the day: ‘My life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone.’ Please God, not many of us will be called to be put to death for our faith, and yet there is a death that we all must die: the death to ourselves, such that Christ can live in us. Accepting physical martyrdom (in whatever form) will only be possible for us if we allow grace to help us more and more to say yes to God in all the various circumstances of our life (or death). At the intercession of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, may the Lord grant us the grace to live our Christian calling more fully.

Fr Cedd Mannion OSB

Solemnity of Ss Peter & Paul

On this Solemnity of Peter and Paul, we celebrate two of Christianity’s key figures, each of whom presents a challenge both to faith and to reason: how could it be that Peter – the unlettered fisherman, ardent and generous, yet weak and unreliable – and Paul – that fearsome fanatic of the Law, implacably opposed to everything Christian – should be chosen by the world’s Saviour as the first to spread his Gospel of the new order of truth and love to the Greco-Roman empire? In terms of this world, it follows no human logic and remains an insoluble mystery. Yet in the order of grace it is the greatest demonstration of the power of the God to bring about a new creation, symbolised by Christ’s giving new names to each – to Simon: Peter, and to Saul: Paul. In the Roman catacombs there is the earliest image of the Concordia apostolorum, of Peter and Paul exchanging the kiss of peace, a peace they had struggled to bring about at the Council of Jerusalem in 48 AD, fruit of their radical conversion to Christ for whom they would give their lives as martyrs.

Fr Alexander McCabe OSB