MONDAY 29TH JUNE 2020
SOLEMNITY OF STS. PETER AND PAUL
Acts 12:1-11, Psalm 33:2-9, 2 Timothy 4:6-8,17-18, Matthew 16:13-19
Today we celebrate the most important personalities in the history of the Church. Peter and Paul are traditionally referred to as the two pillars of the Church. The foundation of the Church rested on their shoulders.
Peter and his brother Andrew from Capernaum, were direct Apostles of Jesus. He was a fisherman by profession until Jesus called him to become a Fisher of men. His zeal for the work of God was so obvious that Jesus always counted on him and took him along on almost all activities. As we see in the gospel reading of today, Jesus saw him competent enough that he handed his Church over to him, giving him the keys to the kingdom of heaven and promised to be with him to the end of time. Though he had his weaknesses as we all do, he took the work of God very serious. He was among the first disciples to run to the tomb to see Jesus after his resurrection, and he took his position as leader of the church after the day of Pentecost. He preached the first public sermon at Pentecost, worked the first miracle after the ascension of Jesus and was very active at the first Council of the Church where he states that Gentiles should be accepted into the Christian fold. Peter is the first Pope of the Catholic Church. His great witness to the faith led to his martyrdom around the year 67AD during the reign of Emperor Nero. He was Martyred on the Vatican Hill where we have St Peter's Basilica today.
Paul on the other hand though not a direct Apostle of Jesus, was called directly by Jesus after his ascension. Jesus saw the zeal and courage in him thought he was using it wrongly to persecute the Christian faith. He is mostly known as the Apostle to the Gentiles because he took the gospel to the known pagan world of the time. He endured a lot of persecution for the faith during his Missionary activities, and his many letters to various Christian communities, serve as part of the word of God today, as well as a guide to the Christian faith.
As we see in the 2nd reading of today, Paul, in his 2nd letter to Timothy told him that he had worked so hard and was waiting for his crown of glory. Like St Peter, he was also given his crown by Emperor Nero who beheaded him on the Ostian way at Tre Fontane where today we have the Basilica of St Paul.
On 29th June 268AD, the bodies of Peter and Paul were brought to St Sebastian Catacomb and are both celebrated together as one of the 12 most important celebrations in the Liturgical calendar of the Church.
Jesus has also called us in a very special way, how are we working for the kingdom of God? What contribution are we making to endure that the word of God reaches the ends of the world? How committed are we to the work God has entrusted to us? Can we like St Paul boast that we have finished the work God has given to us and are waiting for our crown of glory?
Let us be more zealous about the work of God today, and commit ourselves more seriously to it. God help us. Amen.
St Peter and Paul: Pray for us.
Fr Michael Osatofoh Eninlejie MSP