The great solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul gives us an opportunity to reflect on our own lives as apostles and disciples of Jesus. One way we can do that is by asking ourselves what similarities there are between these two giants and ourselves. You might be surprised at how similar we are.
Both St. Peter and St. Paul were perfectly imperfect human beings. So are we. Everyone who has ever read the Gospels or the Acts of the Apostles knows that both of these men were sinners; some might say great sinners. We are all sinners. Both of these men were chosen by God for a special mission. Again, so were we.
Perhaps the only difference between these two great saints and us is that they are honored and revered by all of Christendom. Honors and reverence are usually reserved for those who have died. This is where we are different. You and I are still living and working in the world, looking forward to the day when we will join these saints, looking forward to the day when we will walk the halls of heaven as saints among the saints.
St. Peter was one of the first to see Jesus in the flesh after his resurrection. St. Paul was among the last to see him. He encountered Jesus as he was on his way to Damascus, an encounter which changed his life forever.
St. Peter shared the fate of crucifixion with Jesus. St. Paul was beheaded because he was a citizen of Rome. Both gave their lives for Christ. In the Acts of the Apostles we read of how Peter was freed of his chains through the intercession of an angel. We too have been freed from the shackles of sin. In his Second Letter to Timothy, St. Paul speaks of having completed the race. While we all still have a short ways to go, one day we will also be able to claim victory as we reach the finish line and find Jesus there waiting for us.
If we compete well, if we finish the race, if we keep the faith, we too will have a crown of righteousness awaiting us. But grace we were chosen; in grace may we respond. May we always be open to wherever that grace will lead us.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator