Tuesday, July 01, 2008
St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles - Homily
". . . If the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church then it is only that the martyrs confessed what was revealed to them, not by flesh and blood, but by the Father in heaven. That is they confessed Jesus Christ and as they were heard so was He. But as He was rejected so would they be. But this is how the kingdom of heaven advanced, how the sick were healed and how the demons lost their power.
". . . Jesus foresaw the fear and suffering and persecution that His disciples would face with His death on the cross. He saw the attacks His Church would undergo in the world. Therefore, He unites us in and feeds us at the altar that we may be strengthened in the one true faith with the hope of eternal life. If the seed of the Church is the blood of the martyrs then it is through the blood of Christ Himself that the Church has her very life. "By His own blood he redeemed us, as also His apostle [Paul] declares, 'In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the remission of sins.' Colossians 1:14" (Iren., Ad. Haer., V, 2, 2) This Church bears until the Last Day the promise Jesus gave Peter; the gates of hell will not prevail against her. The serpent's head is crushed and the demons are cast out in Jesus' name. In Christ there is peace on earth and good will toward men. 'And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints.' (Introit)
"With Jesus' promise concerning the Church and her life under God's guidance, protection and blessing we see also how He looks ahead, choosing men to carry on His work in the apostolic ministry . . .
"If Jesus is the divine and human Rock on which the Church is built, Peter and his confession are the human means through which the Lord builds His Church . . . [the Lord] continues to reign graciously among us and prepare us for the Last Day when He will come to judge the living and the dead. In the meantime the Church continues to make the same loving confession as Peter as we confess the Nicene Creed. In the meantime we live in the Lord's promise, made certain by His cross, that though the Church suffers on earth, though she is attacked and rejected, even hell cannot prevail against her. For even as Christ reigns in heaven above so He reigns among us, ever 'precious food supplying' (LSB 630), guiding, protecting and blessing us and enriching and enlivening His Church on earth with the forgiveness of sins, all along preparing us for eternal life in His kingdom. Amen."