Matthew only uses the word "church" twice in his gospel (18:17 is the other place). He perceives the church not so much about church as an institution, but as a community initiated by Jesus to carry on the ministry he started in his lifetime. These first disciples were a small, fragile group. Their record as disciples was hardly star-studded. I wonder how many of those Jesus addressed in today's story were also in the garden the night he was betrayed?
Jesus doesn’t respond to Peter's strengths but to his words and his testimony. Is our Church as strong as the faith upon which it is built and we profess? What brings us together on Sundays isn't what binds other individuals into a community. It isn't our common ancestry, race, language, nationality or economic sameness. The common thread drawing us is our shared faith. With Peter we profess Jesus as "the Christ, the Son of the living God." We may express that in different languages and varied cultural expressions but, in one way or another, we proclaim the same thing: Jesus is our Lord, the Son of the living God.
Today we celebrate Peter and Paul, our great heroes of faith, while we reflect on how they started out. Through these very limited humans God has done a great thing. Once they expressed their faith, God could start building the church on those who witness in Jesus' name. Like Peter and Paul all of us are required to witness to Christ and some may even have to give their lives in his name.
Yes, all of us need to witness. We may feel frail at times, ashamed of the all-too-public sins of some of our members and leaders. But Jesus assures us that the church, built on the faith Peter expresses today, will prevail against all the evil the world can throw against it. Glorify the Lord with me: together we shall praise his Name (responsorial Psalm today).