The key to it all
This weekend the feast of Saints Peter and Paul has invaded the Sunday calendar and sadly (to my mind anyway) arrogated from the liturgy the gospel story of the raising of Jairus’ daughter. This is a pity since this beautiful story from Mark’s gospel has much to teach us about our faith in the presence of Jesus amongst us as one who heals and restores us to wholeness. Never mind though, because in reflecting on the persons of Peter and Paul we are offered another pathway with which to contemplate the nature of our calling as disciples or followers of Jesus.
Perhaps the first thing to say is that this feast is not really about Saint Peter or Saint Paul as they have their own day in the calendar of the saints. This day is more about our own role as members of the Church and to that regard it is closely linked with that other great feast of discipleship, All Saints. I think the way to understand both these feasts is to look around us and to see what is happening in our parish and within the framework and context of our own community, recognise the holiness that is lived through the good works that are performed with generosity and kindness. For it is in the nature of these works that holiness makes it mark and shows us that the mercy and compassion of the Lord touches the hearts of so many in ways that may not at first be obvious. The gospel for the vigil mass on Saturday recounts the words of Jesus to Peter after the miraculous draft of fish in which we are reminded of the call we each have to be the active presence of Jesus’ love in the place where we are. But more than that we are told to be courageous and bold, bold enough to be prepared to go beyond where we are and to reach out to others to bring them this all embracing love. This is why it is so important that we continue to carry out the charitable works of the parish, the coffee mornings, the food bank collection, the visiting and care of the sick and so on. These are the tasks that make a difference to people and change their lives.
The gospel for Sunday speaks of the giving of keys, which of themselves cause us to think of sanctuary and liberty. The key we are given is the love of Jesus which both secures us and frees us. How often are we comforted by a word of kindness or appreciation? How often are we reassured by the consoling arm offering us a heartfelt hug of gratitude for the work we do. Similarly are we not gladdened by the freedoms we have to express our joy and love for each other in the successes and achievements we share. This is why the building up of the parish through the shared table celebrations, the social gatherings and the liturgical celebrations is so important. These events are in a very real way, an extension of the gathering we come to each Vigil and Sunday mass, where we take part and share in the sacrament of love which is the Eucharist. All of our work as disciples flows from the table of fellowship or communion and without this weekly experience we miss out. We come literally into the sanctuary of God’s love so that we can be free to take that love into our world.
This feast then is one which illuminates and sanctifies the work which we do as ‘Church’ and it calls upon us to commit ourselves once again to carry on the work of the gospel, just as Peter and Paul did.