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June 27, 2010
Saints Peter and Paul – United in Jesus ChristThis week, June 29, we celebrate the feast of two pillars of the Catholic Church, i.e., St. Peter and St. Paul. Both have their separate feast at other times during the liturgical year but the church feels strongly enough about them to allow a second celebration, this time bringing them together for our acknowledgment. What is so special about their relationship that we are asked to remember these two men each year?
St. Peter is well known for being impetuous but passionate about his relationship with the Lord. He was always in the forefront promising things he couldn’t live up to and saying things he didn’t quite understand. He finally came around however, under the guidance of the Spirit. He is probably not the one we would have chosen to lead the infant church but Christ thought he would do and so it was.
St. Paul was completely different character. He was sophisticated, well educated, knew several languages including Greek. Contrary to Peter, Paul never promised anything until he understood and was fully committed. When he was ready, he was really ready.
What the two had in common was a deep and passionate love of their God. They were totally committed to the spread of the Gospel. They allowed nothing to come between them and their mission, (the mission of the Church). This is essential even today.
Why does the Church want us to continue looking at these two men today? Isn’t their work done? They spread the word, they helped the Church to grow and they moved on. Was more to them than just being the initiator? Perhaps what the Church wants us to look at are not so much their similarities but their opposite characteristics.
Because Peter and Paul were so different they spent much time arguing and thus being responsible for upheaval in their communities. Their disagreements were not minor by any stretch of the imagination. They clashed over such matters as redemption being for the Jews only as opposed to being for the Gentiles as well. This controversy nearly brought the infant Church down. Followers of the early church had to have a strong faith in Christ to remain loyal to the Church. The other apostles often found Paul difficult to swallow. They probably would have preferred that he had never fallen off his horse.
What can we learn from the situation in the early days of the Church? We see that God calls who He wills. God makes use of very different personalities and talents and is able to bring their gifts to fruition regardless of our opinion or perspective. We also see that things were not always pretty in the church even from its beginnings. There has always been turmoil and upheaval. Being human, even if a great saint, means you are not perfect. This is so important for us to remember.
How does that affect us today? It tells us that we are not worse off than any other age. We don’t all have to be the same and we don’t have to become discouraged if our church or our leaders are going through difficult times. Our faith is ultimately in Christ and He promised to stay with us until the end of time. May Christ’s love be with all of you each day of your lives.
Lorette P. Nault