Yesterday we celebrated the feast of two of the great pillars of the church, St Peter, and Paul. St Peter and Paul came from very different backgrounds.
- Peter was a fisherman from rural Galilee
- Paul was a learned Pharisee from the university city of Tarsus
- Peter’s first language was Aramaic; Paul’s first language was Greek
- Peter knew Jesus from the time of Jesus’ baptism and was with Jesus until the time of Jesus’ passion and death
- Paul only ever met the risen Lord, in the vicinity of Damascus
The Power of The Lord
For all their differences, they had at least one thing in common. Both men found themselves in disagreement with the Lord. Peter denied Jesus publicly three times. Paul violently persecuted the followers of Jesus, and thereby persecuted Jesus himself. Yet, their resistance to the Lord did not prevent the Lord from working powerfully through them. Peter was chosen to be the leader of the twelve, the rock on which Jesus would build his church. Paul was chosen to be the great apostle to the pagans. We know from the letter to the Galatians that Peter and Paul had a serious disagreement at one point about the direction the church should be taking. They were very different people and the Lord worked through each of them in very different ways.
Although Peter and Paul were two very different individuals, they saw one another as brothers. their closeness came from the Lord as he is the one who unites us, without making us alike. Today’s feast reminds us that the way the Lord works through us is unique to each one of us. The feast also reassures us that our many resistances to the Lord need not be a obstacle to the Lord working through us. Peter who denied the Lord and Paul who persecuted the Lord went on to become great servants of the Lord. Our failings do not define who we are. Paul would go on to say, ‘the Lord’s grace toward me has not been in vain’. The Lord’s grace towards us in our weakness and frailty need never be in vain if we continue to open ourselves to the workings of that grace, as Peter and Paul did.
Prophecy for us
“if you have ears then listen to what the Spirit says to the churches!
“To those who win the victory I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give them a white stone on which is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
Jesus is calling each one of us to be living stones in continuing to build a renewed church and a renewed humanity. Let us find the courage to say yes Just as St Peter and Paul did.
Father in heaven,
the light of your revelation brought Peter and Paul
the gift of faith in Jesus your Son.
Through their prayers
may we always give thanks for your life
given us in Christ Jesus,
and for having been enriched by him
in all knowledge and love.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you?
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.