June 28, 2017

Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, "Pillars of the Church"

Saints Peter and Paul

June 29th

Saints Peter and Paul are often seen as complementary figures and are regarded as "pillars" of the Church (Gal 2:9). Peter represents the institutional Church, while Paul represents the charismatic or spiritual Church. Both are associated with the Church in Rome. But what binds them together, above all else, was their utter dedication to the message of Christ. They were martyred in Rome under persecution ordered by the Emperor Nero in 64 and 67 respectively due to their fearless proclamation of the Gospel. Today we recall especially their holy deaths.

The New Testament often portrays Peter as rash and headstrong. One minute, he is a paragon of faith; the next, he has completely misunderstood what Jesus wants. He frequently does not seem to get what is going on, and he even denies Jesus when Jesus is about to be executed. And yet, despite his shortcomings and weaknesses, he has a heart for the Lord. He is the Prince of the Apostles, and as the first bishop of Rome, holds a special place in the hearts of Catholic Christians.

Scripture introduces Paul as a violent persecutor of the first Christians. In fact, he oversees the execution of the man whom the Acts of the Apostles depicts as the first martyr, St. Stephen (Acts 7:58-8:1). He considers himself a late addition to the Jesus movement, referring to himself as “one untimely born” (1 Cor 15:8). However, following his encounter with Christ near Damascus, he became one of the greatest missionaries in the history of the Church. Like Peter, Paul has a heart for the Lord, and when his spiritual energy is directed to the glory of Jesus Christ, he is a powerful witness to the kingdom of God. His letters make up the bulk of the New Testament and continue to guide the Church into the present. [Source]

Prayer for the Intercession of Sts. Peter and Paul

Grant, we pray, O Lord our God, that we may be sustained by the intercession of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, that, as through them you gave your Church the foundations of her heavenly office, so through them you may help her to eternal salvation. 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. Amen.

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