Read Acts 12:1-11, Psalm 34, 2nd Timothy 4:6-18, Matthew 16:13-19
“You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
As we celebrate two of the greatest pillars of the early church today; Saints Peter and Paul, our readings today are basically set on a tone of encouragement. The life of Saints Peter and Paul teaches us that the Christian life is tough, full of challenges and hardships, yet, it contains a lot of great rewards.
In his second letter to Timothy, Paul describes the Christian life as a fight and a race. It is not a fight against flesh and blood, but a fight against sin and evil. This fight requires a dress code; the belt of truth, the shield of righteousness, shoes of the Gospel, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, and so on. (Cf. Ephesians 6:13-18).
The Christian life is also race; a race to be perfect as God is perfect. Just as “athletes exercise self-control in all things to receive a perishable wreath,” we must discipline ourselves to win the imperishable crown of glory. (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).
From the experience of Peter, we learn that the Christian life involves active listening to the Holy Spirit. “Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you but my Father who is in heaven.” (Mathew 16:17). For his ability to hear from God, Peter was made the head of the Church. For his numerous missionary enterprises, Paul became of the greatest figures of early Church history. Hence, we are celebrating both saints together.
One thing that marks out the life of Peter and Paul was their unstoppable zeal for evangelization. They were ready to sacrifice everything including their own lives for the sake of God. They suffered a lot but God never abandoned them. On many occasions, they received Angelic visitations and even miraculous deliverance from the hands of their enemies as we see in today’s first reading.
A Non-Catholic asked me: “Why do we celebrate the saints? Why do we remember them or mold statutes of the saints? Aren’t they just dead people?” In response, I drew her attention to the book of Hebrews 13:7-8 which states: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” More still, Jesus taught us that “He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:32, Mark 12:27)
The images of the saints do not compete in any way with our worship of God rather they increase our devotion to God by whose grace and power the saints became what they are. In an age of so much scandal and corruption among Christians, celebrating the saints help us remember that we have mentors, we have heroes, we have people who once walked this earth and followed the footsteps of Christ to the end. If Paul and Peter could do it, then we too can do it.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, like Peter and Paul, use me to continue this great work. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles. Bible Study: Acts 12:1-11, Psalm 34, 2nd Timothy 4:6-18, Matthew 16:13-19).