Saints Peter and Paul: kept the faith, spread the faith
Reflections on the readings for the Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul, Apostles / Mass during the Day (June 29, 2021): 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.
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (2 Timothy 4:18).
On this solemnity we commemorate the faithful service and martyrdom of the two great pillars of the Christian faith, Saints Peter and Paul. While Jesus Christ is the head of the Church, He called on Simon Peter to be first among the Apostles and the first Pope. After the Ascension of our Lord and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter led the others in sharing the message of Christ and His gift of salvation among the Jewish people, starting in Jerusalem. While this humble fisherman was an often impetuous and imperfect disciple of Christ, he was nevertheless charged with leading the early followers into an ever-growing community of faith. Paul, first known as Saul, also profoundly believed in Jesus as the Son of God and our Savior. Unlike Peter, Paul had despised the first followers of Christ and did everything he could to stop them. He had Christians arrested and was present at the stoning of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Church. Yet after Christ miraculously spoke to him on the road to Damascus, Paul’s spent the rest of his days preaching the Good News far and wide, particularly to Gentiles.
In the second reading we hear from St. Paul’s letter written while he was in a Roman prison. It is, in a sense, a last will and testament, encouraging all who would see or hear this letter about their need to focus on Christ. But it was also a reminder of what Paul had done and the hardships he had experienced in the service of Christ. The Apostle wanted all Christians to be as dedicated to our Lord as was. “I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand.… The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed.… The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to His heavenly Kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:6, 17-18). St. Peter would have understood; indeed he might have written something similar himself. In the name of Christ, each saint was martyred in Rome in the mid-60s A.D.