Acts 12:1-11; II Tim 4:6-8, 17-18 Mt 16:13-19
“Alright, everyone,” St. Peter says, “You men, form two lines – one line for the men who dominated their women on earth, and the other line for the men who were dominated by their women.” They do as they are told. Peter looks up and sees that the line of men who were dominated by their women is 100 miles long. In the line of men who dominated their women, there was only one man. Peter is mad. “You men should be ashamed of yourselves. God created you in His image and you were all whipped by your mates. Only one of you has made God proud during your journey on earth. Learn from him!” Then, addressing the solitary man, Peter says, “Tell the rest how you managed to be the only one in this line.” “I’m not sure,” the man says. “My wife told me to stand here.”
We come across so many jokes connected with St. Peter but it was so hard for me to find a single joke related to St. Paul. However the joke is not important but the message today’s feast Sts. Peter and Paul convey.
For those of us who constantly struggle to live our faith in a world increasingly hostile to the practice of Christian virtue, the lives of the saints can be a real inspiration. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the greatest of the Apostles, two men called by Jesus Christ, specially chosen: one to lead His Church and the other to spread the Faith throughout the world.
It is interesting to note the personalities of both Peter and Paul. Peter was impetuous, telling Jesus that he would die with him on Holy Thursday night if necessary (John 13:37) but later that night he denied he knew him. We also remember Peter’s objection to Jesus’ prediction that he would suffer and die in Jerusalem and Jesus said ‘Get behind me Satan because the way you think is man’s way and not God’s way’ (Matt 16:23). Yet what made Peter a suitable candidate for Jesus’ call was his love, so three times Jesus asked him if he loved him and asked him to look after the flock.
Paul, on the other hand, probably never met Jesus face to face. Once a persecutor of the church, his conversion came about through a vision on the road to Damascus. His inspiration and his style of presenting the gospel came from visions and charismatic experiences. He is portrayed in icons carrying either a sword or a book. Peter and Paul were so different that Peter was surnamed the Apostle of the Jews and Paul the Apostle of the Gentiles. All of us are Gentiles. His preaching was very successful and he brought huge numbers of non-Jews into the church, so much so that the number of Jews in the church was greatly outnumbered by non-Jews. It is because of Paul that we are now in the Church. So both Peter and Paul had very important tasks in the early church
Paul once had a public disagreement with Peter on whether Jewish Christians could eat together with Gentile Christians (Galatians 2). Both suffered the same kind of death, martyrdom, in the same city, Rome, at about the same time, 64-67 a.d. The early church recognized Peter and Paul as the two pillars of the church.
As we look at the personalities of Peter and Paul, we see that God called them to use their personalities to spread the Gospel, Peter to use his impetuous love to look after the flock, and Paul to use his training as a Pharisee and his strength of character to ensure that the non-Jews would be welcomed into the church. It is a reminder to us that our talents and our weaknesses too can become God’s means of helping others, if we allow. We don’t have to be perfect for God to work through us, God can work through us, faults and all, as he did with Peter and Paul.
Peter and Paul gave witness to Jesus Christ with their words, their deeds and their lives. The power that Peter and Paul had to spread the Gospel has been given to us. We have received the Holy Spirit. We can be witnesses to Jesus Christ. Peter and Paul did not have Facebook or Twitter. They didn’t need them. We don’t either. We have what they had. We have the Holy Spirit. We pray today that through the intercession of these two great saints of the Church we might have the determination and the courage to proclaim Jesus Christ.