Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

When my brother and I were born (fraternal twins) I was named Peter and my bother Paul. The story goes as I was told that the nurse on duty kept getting our names mixed that my mother finally decided that I would be Paul and my brother Peter. I am grateful for either name as St. Peter and St. Paul are truly the bulwark that both rooted and grew Christianity, and as evidenced in God's plan they could not have been more different. I think in many ways they are the manifestations of faith and reason in human persona. Peter of course was a follower of Jesus right from the start:

"The next day John was there again with two of his disciples,and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God."The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" He said to them,"Come, and you will see." So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed). Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter). The next day he decided to go to Galilee, and he found Philip. And Jesus said to him, "Follow me."

Peter goes on to follow Jesus, exhibiting every aspect of faith possible; recognizing Jesus as the Christ, walking on water, often saying things impulsively and being rebuked by Jesus, denying Jesus at the Passion and finally being forgiven by Jesus and given the keys to the Church. Peter is described in Acts with great desire and passion, as the Holy Spirit burns with fire within him. Peter truly loves and trust Jesus.

Paul of course takes a different route:

"Now Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"He said, "Who are you, sir?" The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do."
Paul like Peter takes on his new name, and goes on to carry Christianity to the Gentiles. Paul was a Pharisee and Roman citizen, well aware of the Law and the Gentiles. He goes to Jerusalem to confirm that the Gospel he preaches is in concordance with the Apostles:
"Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin.
For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it, and progressed in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my race, since I was even more a zealot for my ancestral traditions."
Peter warns that Paul is writing things that might be difficult to understand:

"And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures." (no chance of that occurring today)
Paul goes on to suffer greatly to bring the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire. He and Peter ultimately are martyred in Rome. They were God's chosen messengers and caretakers of the Faith and ours and the Church's greatest patrons. St. Peter and Paul pray for us.

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