Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18
June 29, 2014
Today would normally be the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time but June 29th is the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul as Apostles. Because it is a Solemnity it takes precedence over the Sunday.
One could ask the question why is this a solemnity. Solemnities are the highest feasts of our church. Most saint days are memorials (some optional, some obligatory) while some of the more well know saints are celebrated with feasts.
Solemnities are even higher than feasts. Saints Peter and Paul are honored as the well most well-known of the apostles.
We often contrast the two. Peter preached to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles. Peter saw Jesus here on Earth while Paul did not become Christian till after Jesus’ death.
We have to be careful how we look at these contrasts. For instance, sometimes Peter is remembered for ministries to the Jews but we must realize he did also minister to Gentiles like Cornelius and his family. Likewise, we must remember that while Paul is known as the Apostle to the Gentiles, that whenever he entered a new town, he always began by first going to the Jewish synagogue to preach to the Jews.
We might remember Peter as the one who denied Jesus three times but he is also the one who professed his love for Jesus three times. Likewise, we can remember that Paul first persecuted the Christians before becoming one himself.
Peter knew the human Jesus while Paul saw the risen Jesus but what matters is that they both had a personal encounter with Jesus.
Peter and Paul had a lot in common. They were both called by the Lord Jesus himself to be Apostles. They were both persecuted, arrested, and martyred for their faith (something they share in common with Jesus).
We might see Peter and Paul as extraordinary people called to an extraordinary role as Apostles. If that is all we see, we might praise them for their ministry but we might not see a personal connection to them.
But we should…
Before being called by Jesus, Peter was an ordinary fisherman. Yet Jesus had a plan for him as he does for each of us.
Paul was a zealous Jew, aggressively persecuted the Christians, seeing Jesus as a false messiah. It took a direct intense encounter with Jesus to get Paul to change. How often do we think we have all the answers only to find out we were wrong? Are we open to undergoing conversion?
As persecuted Christians, Peter and Paul set an example of perseverance for us. When persecuted they could have easily given up and walked away. Even when arrested, they are given a chance to renounce the Christian faith but they didn’t. So they both become martyrs.
Paul writes to Timothy, “I have competed well, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Can we say the same?
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us!