J.M.J. Both Saint Peter and Saint Paul were outstanding followers of Jesus.
You may be especially attracted to Saint Peter, the fisherman who became the first Pope. Or you may find yourself more allured by Saint Paul, the former persecutor of Christians and prolific author who preached in many places throughout Palestine.
But you cannot go wrong whether your favorite is Saint Peter or Saint Paul. Both traveled the same road—the only road—that leads to Christ, even though Peter had his own “lane” and Paul had his. But the direction was the same: to Jesus Christ Our Lord.
These two great Apostles and Martyrs proclaimed Jesus even to being imprisoned for the sake of His Holy Name and to the spilling of their blood. They courageously laid down their lives for Christ and His Holy Gospel.
The Universal Church as a whole and each individual member of the Church are firmly indebted to Saints Peter and Paul. We continue to benefit enormously from their heavenly intercession and good example.
Simon Peter was fearless when responding to the question posed by Jesus: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter sincerely replied without hesitation: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Although Peter would stumble later, shortly before the Crucifixion of Jesus, here he was surefooted. Such an insight from Peter can only come from God.
Paul was unafraid, whether speaking before naysayers and outright enemies of the Cross of Jesus or locked behind the jailhouse door. Paul knew that he had been “poured out like a libation”—he had spent himself in service to Christ and His Church. Paul expected that he and the others who faithfully labored in the vineyard of the Lord would be rewarded for their efforts, not because they merited it but because of the overwhelming mercy of the Master.
“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall be ever in my mouth.” Saints Peter and Paul were all about praising and serving the Lord—always. Whether unencumbered or handcuffed, these two great men blessed the Holy Name of the Lord. They were honored and humbled that they, despite their sinfulness, had been chosen to be ambassadors of Christ to the nations.
Today’s Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul is a fitting time in which to take stock of my own commitment to Christ. A few questions come to mind.
1. What is my stance toward suffering? Jesus has made suffering valuable for our salvation. When you and I, like Saints Peter and Paul, cheerfully offer our trials to Christ, He uses them for us, for the Church, and for the world. Then, our suffering really is “salvific”—it assists us on the way to Paradise.
2. Do I recognize the power of my influence, be it good or bad, on others? There is no question that you and I influence others. The only doubt is whether our influence is good or bad. In other words, each of us must decide what kind of influence to wield. Will we lead others to or away from Jesus Christ! A crucial question indeed!
3. Am I grateful to God for those who have gone before me who have given such a helpful example of faith and charity? “Out of sight, out of mind” should never be our mentality regarding those who have preceded us. Those remarkable disciples of Christ deserve our thanks. And those who have died but who are not yet in Heaven deserve our prayers.
4. Do I always “bless the Lord” in both my joys and sorrows? To praise God is always appropriate, whether I am experiencing some happiness or carrying a heavy cross. The Lord always deserves my praise and thanks. Why? Because He is Who He is. He is my Creator, and therefore I am to worship Him. Praising and serving God are the mainstays of our lives.
Just as the Lord had a special plan for Saints Peter and Paul, He has one for each of us. No matter our weaknesses—weariness, ignorance, past struggles—God is so great that He knows how to employ us in His Kingdom.
God continues to strengthen His Church through the prayers and example of Saints Peter and Paul. As we conclude the month of June, which is especially dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we ask the Heart of Christ to stir up deep within us the fervent love and conviction that marked the lives of these “super” Apostles and Martyrs.
Regardless of our personal deficiencies, may we cooperate with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We praise and serve Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ in our efforts to build up His Church, as did Saints Peter and Paul almost 2,000 years ago. Even now from Heaven, Saints Peter and Paul are furthering the Reign of God.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us!