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WHAT DO WE OWE TO THESE TWO MEN?

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Saints Peter and Paul

“These men, conquering all human frailty, shed their blood and helped the Church to grow. By sharing the cup of the Lord’s suffering, they became the friends of God.” These are the words that introduce the Mass of Saints Peter and Paul.

Their original names were Simon and Saul but Jesus changed them because they were destined for unique vocations. Simon was to be the first pope, the Vicar of Christ, so Jesus gave him the name Peter, meaning Rock. It was on him Jesus was to build His Church. Saul was to be the teacher of all nations and was given the name Paul.

Peter and Paul were very human. Peter was impetuous, impulsive and unstable, while Paul was zealous, proud and violent. Peter denied he ever knew Jesus on the eve of His death despite being a follower of His for three years. Paul persecuted Jesus and wanted to eliminate every follower of His from the face of the Earth. Peter was a fisherman with little education, Paul was a Pharisee and a highly educated man. Despite their differences and human frailty, God used both of them as vital instruments in building His Church.

In Peter and Paul, God saw what the human eye could not discern, and so transformed them. Peter at Caesarea Philippi, humble and convinced, proclaimed Jesus as the Son of the Father. Jesus recognised immediately the work of His Father, knowing that flesh and blood, limited and weak, could not have grasped the divine mystery. It was He Who revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Son of the living God. Paul was on the way to Damascus with a letter from the High Priest to persecute the followers of Jesus but He intervened, blinded him, threw him off his horse and revealed to Him that He Jesus was God Whom he was persecuting. Paul could boldly claim that no human person but Jesus Himself taught him the truths of the Gospel (Gal.1:11-12). It was this interior revelation that Jesus was Lord that illuminated and empowered their ministry.

We can only know the Father if Jesus, His Son, reveals this to us. This was one of the main reasons why Jesus came upon this Earth as man. And we can only know about the Son if the Father reveals this to us, that the Son is One with the Father and is to be adored like the Father. These truths were revealed to Peter and Paul by God and we believe that now they have been revealed to us.

If only we had that the personal love for Jesus that both Peter and Paul possessed. They loved Him so much that Peter wanted to spread knowledge of Jesus to his fellow Jews; Paul wanted to travel outside Palestine and teach Jesus to the Gentile world. Yes … they both loved Jesus so much that they laid down their lives for Him. Nothing could separate them from the love of Christ.

We need to have the fire and enthusiasm of Paul, and like him to tell everyone that Jesus is Lord. He teaches us that the Good News is that forgiveness and eternal life are a gift of God’s grace received through faith in Christ and available to all people.

And he teaches us that God does not waste our time – He will use our past and present so that we may serve Him with our future. God did not waste any part of Paul – his background, his training, his citizenship, his mind, or even his weaknesses. Are we willing to let God do the same for us? We will never know all He can do with us until we allow Him to have all that we are!

Only in the next world will we fully realise what we owe to both Saint Peter and Saint Paul, stalwart men who were the foundation stones of our Church at the beginning of its 2,000 year history.

Lord Jesus, we thank Peter and Paul for all they did and we ask them once again, through You, to build and restore the Church of Christ they so loved. We ask Peter to pray for his successor, our Holy Father Pope Francis, that he would strengthen his faith and in turn strengthen ours. And we ask Paul for some of his enthusiasm and commitment to proclaim the truth of Christianity in our own world.

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