MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS
HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL,
MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY, 29TH JUNE 2014 AT 11.00
A.M., FEAST OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL.
“You are the Christ, the Son of the
Brothers and Sisters,
Today we celebrate the feast of Saints
Peter and Paul, acknowledging above all Peter’s Confession of Faith at Caesarea
Philippi, which is recorded by the three synoptic Gospels, while John records
another important confession by Peter after the miracle of the multiplication
of the loaves and Jesus’ address in the synagogue at Capharnaum.
Jesus gave Peter the title of ‘rock’
because it was on the confession of his faith that the Petrine office might be
exercised down through the centuries until Pope Francis. Peter’s Confession of Faith is inseparable
from the pastoral duty to the flock.
It is significant too that Peter’s
confession took place at a moment in Jesus’ life when after preaching in
Galilee he set out for Jerusalem in order to bring his saving mission to
completion by his passion, death and resurrection. Then, as now, the disciples of Jesus were
involved in a response to the invitation from Jesus to make a choice that would
distinguish us from the crowd, believing in him, his family, the Church.
Today’s feast invites us to move from
the superficial vision of the crowd to the penetrating, genuine faith in
response to ‘who do you say that I am?’
The people thought that Jesus was a
prophet. It was not wrong, but it was
inadequate. Many people draw near to
Jesus from the outside. Scholars compare
him to Buddha or Socrates or other important historical figures. Some, like Philip, do not recognise the
uniqueness of Jesus when Jesus says:
“Have I been with you so long and yet you do not know me, Philip?” (John 14:9)
It is a similar error to consider Jesus as one of the great founders of
a religion from which everyone may take something in order to form his or her
But when we say with Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living
God”, we acknowledge something which is essentially different. We acknowledge that Jesus is Lord of our
life, that he is the holy one of God.
After his resurrection he invited the apostles to witness to the fact of
what he had done in giving us the Eucharist, living, dying and then rising
again by his own power.
Peter’s ‘you are the Christ’
can only be understood in the light of the mystery of Jesus’ death and
resurrection. The fullness of Christian
faith comes from Peter’s confession of who Christ is, the Son of the living
God, illumined by the teaching of Jesus as the absolutely unique Messiah and
Son of God.
It is thus essential for us, not
merely to confess our faith, but to learn the way that the Lord has mapped out
for us. Even for believers the cross has
been hard to accept.
When Jesus asks each one of us today,
“who do you say I am?” our response must embrace the cross, the totality of
living for Jesus and a strong confidence in what can be achieved through that
acknowledgement. Even in his weakness
Peter was chosen to show the power of Christ in human life. Jesus is not only a man sent by God, but God
himself made man. The challenge for us
today is to relearn the meaning of Christ, Son of God and Lord in following him
in the pilgrimage of our own life so that we will demonstrate him as the Lord
of all people and all creation.
May Peter’s confidence in the Lord be
our light and strength as we continue our journey aware of both gift and
limitation, captivated by the power of Christ to transform. Peter and Paul are eloquent witnesses at
every moment of their lives to this.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.