14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Bl Peter To Rot


Ezekiel 2:2-5
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Mark 6:1-6


Ezekiel 2:2-5. 2 Cor. 12: 7-10. I will glory in my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may shine in me. Mark 6: 1-6. A prophet is despised only in his own country.

“The Spirit came into me and made me stand up. The Lord says: whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.” These words seem a real prophecy about Blessed Peter To’ Rot whose feast also comes on this day.

God’s word today needs to be heard at this time of uncertainty with so many struggles and conflicts around the world. “I will glory in my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may shine in me.” Paul the apostle reflects on his journey to follow Christ.

These words also fit the feast that is celebrated in the Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea as they mark the feast of the first martyr Blessed Peter To’ Rot. He brings the Good News right home to us in the South Pacific and I thought he deserves our attention today.

Peter To’ Rot was an extraordinary man. His parents were still recent converts to the Catholic faith. But they treasured it and gave Peter the chance for education to grow into a man who loved Jesus and ready to give his life to help his brothers and sisters be faithful to the way that Jesus offered.

He is a wonderful model for Papua New Guinea. Blessed Peter reminds us that holiness comes in all shapes and sizes. He was young – husband, father, family man, teacher and protector of the sanctity of marriage. He and his wife Paula had a good marriage and they prayed together. War came to the Pacific as the Japanese invaded the island of Rakunai. All foreign missionaries were imprisoned. Layman Peter was trained as a catechist, so he became the unofficial “pastor” of the parish. He taught the people quietly, baptized babies and converts, visited the sick, led the people in their Sunday “Lotu” and secretly took the Holy Eucharist to the priests in prison.

The Japanese restricted religious services and soon forbade them altogether. To try to break the hold the faith had on the people, the invaders decided to return the old practice of polygamy. Peter, remembering his Christian message on marriage, objected to this and was arrested in the spring of 1945 and was confined to a cave.

When his wife and mother came to visit, Peter told them a Japanese doctor was coming to visit, but he was not sick. He suspected a trick. He asked Paula to bring his good clothes-he wanted to be ready to meet his God.

The doctor arrived and gave Peter an injection, who began to convulse. The doctor covered his mouth, and soldiers held him down till he suffocated. Soon the people learned what happened to Peter.

Next morning the guards acted surprised to find Peter dead. They said he had died of an infection, but the crowd attending Peter’s funeral knew the truth: Peter was a martyr for the faith. Let us thank God that holiness now has a Melanesian face. We pray that he will soon be named Saint Peter To’ Rot so that the rest of the Church can learn from the example of his life.

Fr. Kevin Dance CP is the vicar of the St.Brigid’s Retreat, Marrickville. He is very actively involved in ministries locally and at Passionist International where he served as the Executive Director for many years.