This is a special Sunday as we celebrate the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the two most important apostles, today. Being a special feast day there are unique readings for Saturday and Sunday. I’m going to do a run through of all the readings and have offer reflections on all of them.
At the Vigil we heard that Peter and John were going to the temple and they encountered a crippled man who was begging. Peter told the man that he has no gold or silver but what I do have I give you in the name of Jesus Christ, rise and walk. This crippled man then rises and begins praising God. In the second reading we hear Paul write to the Galatians saying that he did not come to the Gospel through the Apostles but through a personal vision of Jesus. Paul makes a complete 180 from the harshest critic trying to destroy it to become the greatest evangelizer. The Gospel reading (John 21:15-19) is Jesus asking Peter three times “Do you love me?” this being a counter point to Peter three-fold denial during the Passion. With the readings on Saturday we met Peter and Paul at different time but it is through Christ Jesus that we are offered this great love. The Gospel reading Jesus asks Peter to “feed my lamb…tend my sheep and…feed my sheep” we are to follow in the steps of Peter and bring the love of Christ into the world.
Today, we have a whole different set of readings. We begin with a fun story from Acts, it begins in not a very happy place as King Herod has had James the Greater (John’s Brother) killed by the sword and Peter arrested. On the night before Peter’s trial an angel appeared before Peter and told him to “Get up quickly” and helped Peter escape prison. Turning to the second reading we hear in Paul’s second letter to Timothy that Paul is in Jail and nearing the end of his life it seems, Paul’s finished the race, competed well and he has kept the faith. As we reach the Gospel (Matthew 16:13-19) we arrive at the scene with Jesus asking the disciples “Who do you say I am” Peter replies “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” Jesus likes this and say you are Petrus and upon this petrus I will build my church. From these readings we realize that faith is a key aspect in our lives, Peter believes that an Angel is there rescuing him, Paul reflects and say that keeping his faith is the one thing that he is really proud of, and in the Gospel from Peter’s reply Jesus gives him the Keys to the Kingdom.
Faith and love remind me a lot of Paul and Peter. Paul was a huge persecutor of the faith and he was struck blind and then regains his sight and is the biggest force in preaching to the Gentiles. Paul’s letters are like a how to guide for Christianity and it works differently in different places as we see in the letter. Sure there are lots of different Christian denominations in the world today but they all have Paul as one of the cornerstones. Paul would eventually make it to Rome where he would be beheaded. Without Paul I think none of us are here today, or Christianity would still be a sect of Judaism. Peter was a fisherman who became a fisher of men, he and his brother Andrew were called by Christ and they both became Apostles. Peter is the one apostle that many can identify with as I’ve always seen him as kind of a goofball, walking on water and then drowning, suggesting they build tents during the Transfiguration so it lasts longer. There is also the serious side of Peter as he denies Jesus three times before Jesus dies and then he affirms Jesus three times after the Resurrection. Peter would eventually be crucified upside down in Rome, once again pouring out his love. Looking at Peter and his successors the Popes and Patriarchs we can see the love of Christ still alive in the world today. Sure there may be things that they disagree with but with all their hearts they love everyone. Hopefully we can be inspired to live like Peter and Paul the cornerstones of our faith, and love the world and live out our faiths bringing the Good News out into the world.