June 29, 2020. Feast of Saints. Peter and Paul – Apostles, Martyrs
On this day the Church looks back to her origin and celebrates solemnly the memory of the two most important men in her life who moulded her in the early stages, leaving an indelible mark on her very foundation and character. As different from each other as chalk from cheese , Saints Peter and Paul were referred to as “the two pillars of the Church”, “two lanterns” burning or Christ, illuminating the way to Heaven.
We always love to sing the song: “Faith of our Fathers living still.” Yes indeed. If we are what we are today holding on to our Christian faith, that faith is the greatest gift from millions of fathers and mothers of the past. Today we celebrate two of those fathers, the great ancestors in our faith, namely St. Peter and Paul . These two men had different backgrounds and temperaments and yet had only one destiny to love and die for Jesus and his Church. Let me share some of their similarities and dissimilarities points.
First of all while each one had his own peculiar background and formation they had a significant similarity of carrying a weak and fragile humanity within them. Peter was a common worker, a Jewish fisherman with no formal education as best as we can tell, whereas Paul, though born Jew, was brought up in Greek cultural environment. H was an educated man. He studied at the feet of the great Hebrew scholar Gamaliel. Though physically Paul was a small man, he was tall and high in the knowledge and even handling and managing his life’s quest. However as their similarity both were as weak as any other human being. Peter was a very ordinary man who made about as many mistakes as we would in his place, and kicked himself for them as thoroughly afterwards. He had a weak temperament to be easily confused impetuous and being timid and cowardly.
Paul was small, but he was dynamo. He was one of those Pharisees who did everything possible to destroy the followers of Jesus. He was present when the first martyr, Stephen, was stone to death. He approved. He then went on raids, arresting Christians whenever he could find them and turning them into the Jewish authorities, who would imprison or kill them. Paul always reminds people of his weakness – look, I know what I ought to do, and keep on doing the opposite – look, I have this thorn in my flesh and God absolutely refuses to take it away. Paul is not all mind – he does have his troubles too.
Secondly, both Peter and Paul had different kinds of contacts with Jesus. While Paul had a sudden apparition of Jesus, Peter had three years of contact with the Lord and even after his resurrection. However the remarkable similarity for the two is the conversion that gave them a total turning – point in their life and became the no. 1disciples of Jesus. Both responded to Jesus’ call immediately and willing saying ‘yes’ to him and put their whole trust and love in him and began leading their earthly life as Paul wrote. ‘I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me.’ Both had their downhill experiences, as we hear from Acts and their letters, made some times wrong choices, overwhelmed with the feelings of anger jealously and stubbornness. With all those weaknesses they held their hands tight with their Master Jesus.
There is some Peter and some Paul in each of us. Each of us harbors some of their inadequacies. Each of us also enjoys some of their strength. On the negative side, all of us tend to bungle through life like Peter, making great promises, taking great oaths, and then backing down, when the situation becomes too tough, too demanding. How many times have we all, myself included, compromised standing for the Lord in order to prevent being mocked by the crowd. Sometimes we go through life like the firestorm that was Saul of Tarsus, convinced that our view of the world is correct and willing to destroy anyone who disagrees with us.
Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one; and even though they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first and Paul followed. An so we celebrated this day made holy for us by the apostles’ blood.
God Bless. Happy feast of Saints Peter and Paul