Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29
May the Holy Lives of Saints Peter and Paul Be As a Guiding Light in Our Own Walks of Faith, So That We Too May Become Living Examples of Christian Love and Charity.
“I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” – words spoken by Paul which we find in our Second Reading today. And, except for Judas the betrayer, this is a statement which could be applied to all the Apostles, and prayerfully to each one of us as well.
Today, we celebrate the great Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the very pillars of strength which we find in our Church’s history.
Peter represents that part of the Church which gives it stability – its traditions handed down in an unbroken line from the very beginning, the structures within the Church which help to preserve those traditions, and those other organizational elements which also give constancy and unity to the Body of Christ, spread as it is through so many different races, cultures, traditions, and geographical diversity.
Peter today is represented by the pope, who is the great symbol of unity and continuity for almost 1.2 billion Catholics throughout the world. Without his role, it is very possible we would see the Church begin to struggle within itself, for it is the bishop of Rome, together with the successors to the Apostles – the bishops throughout the world – all with the guiding help of the Holy Spirit, which is the unifying glue which binds and strengthens the Church, the Body of Christ, through the many adversities which it has endured throughout the centuries.
And it is Christ Himself who promised that the Spirit of Truth would always remain with His Church, watching over it and protecting it, especially through difficult times. And it is the pope who is the Vicar of Christ – His representative on Earth – who emulates Christ in His Passion, especially when its members have strayed from the Truth, as a study of Church history has shown us.
And yet, we see today, as we have throughout the centuries, where many of our separated brethren are slowly coming to realize the importance of that central role which Peter plays in the stability of Christ’s Church; and they, themselves, working with the Catholic Church in the spirit of ecumenism, are finding ways by which we could all, one day, become one Church again.
For it was Christ at His Last Supper who prayed, “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.”
Paul, on the other hand, represents another key characteristic of the Church – the prophetic and missionary role. It is that part of the Church which constantly works to reach out to those who have left our family of faith – to our non-practicing brothers and sisters and to all our separated brethren, as well as all those who do not yet know the beautiful Truth about the Love of Christ – for we are all members of the one Body of Christ; we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and children of the One True God.
It is also the missionary and prophetic role of Paul which reaches out to the marginalized and the poor, the hungry, the sick and the dying – in a world and in a society which fosters a culture and a climate of secularism, relativism and death.
A few years ago, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said that the missionary dimension represented by Saint Paul must always be accompanied by the element of unity represented by Saint Peter, upon whom Christ built His Church. In the Pope’s own words, he stated, “Christians cannot give sound witness to Christ if they are not united together.”
And you and I, and all of our brothers and sisters in Christ, can only be united in and with Christ if we open our hearts to the message of faith and truth which we hear professed at each Mass, for we can only be united in and with Christ if we empty from ourselves our own ego, our own selfishness and our own pride, and take upon ourselves the examples of humility, meekness, selfless love and forgiveness which our Lord gave us.
For it is in the very self-emptying nature of Jesus Christ, wherein He set aside the awesome nature of His Divinity so as to take upon Himself our human nature, with all of its weaknesses except sin, so as to give Himself completely, even to the point of accepting the humiliation of Roman crucifixion and His agonizing and painful death on the Cross, in order that our fractured relationship with our Heavenly Father, caused by the sin of our first parents, may be forever mended.
It is in this self-emptying Model in which we find the examples of total selfless love, humility, meekness and a selfless giving of service to others, as well as the example of Filial or Childlike obedience to His Father in all things.
It is in these examples which we find the true meaning of Church – a communion of faithful people sharing our beliefs together and giving glory to the God who created us and loves us beyond all measure of human understanding. And it is in these self-emptying examples wherein we find the faith-filled lives lived out by Saints Peter and Paul.
As Paul was nearing the end of his life, he wrote, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” How well do we keep the faith in our lives? For those of us who are parents or grandparents, how well do we teach the faith to our children or our grandchildren?
Being a faithful people oftentimes entails sacrifice. By their very lives, Peter and Paul gave us the example of what sacrifice may at times ask of us. Oh, we may never be thrown into prison or stoned; we may never be crucified or beheaded, as they were! But our sacrifices, nonetheless, are still very real to us!
And it is our sacrifice, for the good of our faith, which opens us up to God’s grace, at the same time giving Him the glory which is His. As true disciples of Christ, we are each called to imitate our Lord’s selfless character – through our humility, the selfless giving of our time, talents and treasure for the good of the Body of Christ, and a selfless giving of our love for all our brothers and sisters, especially for those to whom our culture has turned a blind eye – the hungry, the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, all those who are truly marginalized by society.
They, too, are our brothers and sisters. And I am sure that many, if not all of us are familiar with the age-old adage, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
May the lives of these two great ambassadors of Christianity, Peter and Paul, be living examples for each and every one of us. In spite of their human weaknesses and shortcomings, they were always able to keep their eyes focused on the One True Love in their lives, a Love which gave purpose and meaning to everything they did and taught and endured.
They were able to live their lives around the pattern set for them – the life of Jesus Christ and what His Incarnation and living amongst His children, as well as His Death and Resurrection, truly meant.
May their holy lives be as a guiding light for each of us to follow. And may this faith we ourselves profess in Jesus Christ, as a result of their teachings, guide our individual journeys through life – so that we, too, may become living examples of love and charity for others to see and imitate.
For the sake of building up God’s Kingdom here on Earth, may we always reach out with selfless love to each of our brothers and sisters, so that the words of Paul may truly become our own –
“I have competed well…I have kept the faith.” †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.’” (Matthew 16:16-17)
- “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)
- “Paul, an apostle not from human beings nor through a human being but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead…grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:1, 3)
- “For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.” (1 Corinthians 15:9-10b)
- “And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13)
- “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? …So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead…Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.” (James 2:14, 17, 18b)
- “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain…” (John 15:16a)
- “So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20a)
- “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)
Prayer for the Day
“Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart,
which no unworthy affection may drag downwards;
Give us an unconquered heart,
which no tribulation can wear out;
Give us an upright heart,
which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside.
“Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God,Saint Thomas Aquinas
understanding to know You, diligence to seek You,
wisdom to find You,
and a faithfulness that may finally embrace You.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”