Today we celebrate the two greatest leaders of the early Church
Reflections on the readings for the Solemnity of SS. Peter and Paul, Apostles (June 29, 2018): ACTS 12:1-11; PS 34:2-3,4-5,6-7,8-9; 2 TM 4:6-8,17-18; MT 16:13-19
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
On this day we honor the two Apostles who had the most influence on early Christian life.
The first, St. Peter, originally named Simon, fished on the Sea of Galilee until called by Jesus to follow Him. Eventually, Peter would lead the Church. He was hotheaded, capricious and immensely human. Though he denied Jesus on the night before His death, Peter also repented sincerely. He let the Holy Spirit work through him in order to guide the first disciples and, in time, to establish the Church in Rome. At one point, Peter was arrested and might well have been executed. Then, “Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell… saying, ‘Get up quickly.’… They emerged and made their way down an alley and suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter… said, ‘Now I know for certain that the Lord sent His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod’” (Acts 12:7, 10-11). After serving Christ and His people faithfully for several decades, Peter, the first pope, was martyred in Rome about 64 A.D.
St. Paul is the second saint we salute today. He was a Pharisee and ardent enemy of the all who followed the way of Jesus. He actively pursued Christians and had them arrested before his fateful encounter on the road to Damascus when Jesus spoke to Paul, known as Saul. From that time forward, Paul devoted himself completed to preaching the message of salvation. He was the foremost missionary and theologian of the early Church. After many travels and hardships, Paul also died for his faith in the mid-60’s A.D. Because of their importance to the Church, not only in their own age, but also throughout the centuries since then, we celebrate Ss. Peter and Paul on this joint feast day as we have since the third century.