29 June – Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, apostles
Peter (c.1–64) was a professional fisherman. He was the brother of St. Andrew the Apostle, the man who led him to Christ. Given the name Simon, he was renamed ‘Peter’ (Rock) by Jesus to indicate that Peter would be the rock-like foundation on which the Church would be built. He later became a bishop and was the first pope. He was also a miracle worker.
Paul (c.3–c.65) was a Jewish Talmudic student and a Pharisee. He was a tent-maker by trade. Saul the Jew hated and persecuted the Christians as heretical, even assisting at the stoning of St. Stephen the Martyr. On his way to Damascus, Syria, to arrest another group of faithful, he was knocked to the ground, struck blind by a heavenly light, and given the message that in persecuting him, causing his conversion to Christianity.
He was baptized, changed his name to Paul to reflect his new persona, and began travelling, preaching, and teaching. His letters to the churches he help found form a large percentage of the New Testament. He knew and worked with many of the earliest saints and Fathers of the Church. He died a martyr for the faith.
– Patron Saint Index
King Herod started persecuting certain members of the Church. He beheaded James the brother of John, and when he saw that this pleased the Jews he decided to arrest Peter as well. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread, and he put Peter in prison, assigning four squads of four soldiers each to guard him in turns. Herod meant to try Peter in public after the end of Passover week. All the time Peter was under guard the Church prayed to God for him unremittingly.
On the night before Herod was to try him, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, fastened with double chains, while guards kept watch at the main entrance to the prison. Then suddenly the angel of the Lord stood there, and the cell was filled with light. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him. ‘Get up!’ he said ‘Hurry!’ – and the chains fell from his hands. The angel then said, ‘Put on your belt and sandals.’ After he had done this, the angel next said, ‘Wrap your cloak round you and follow me.’ Peter followed him, but had no idea that what the angel did was all happening in reality; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed through two guard posts one after the other, and reached the iron gate leading to the city. This opened of its own accord; they went through it and had walked the whole length of one street when suddenly the angel left him. It was only then that Peter came to himself. ‘Now I know it is all true’ he said. ‘The Lord really did send his angel and has saved me from Herod and from all that the Jewish people were so certain would happen to me.’
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18
My life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.
The Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’
The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom!
As I reflected on the fearlessness and courage of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, as well as the steadfastness of God’s love and protection over them, I am also reminded of the ways both saints failed Jesus – the first, in his cowardice renounced Jesus three times and the other, a zealous persecutor of Christians. In the eyes of the world, they would have been condemned for their betrayal, and yet, instead of writing them off, God touched their hearts and they became powerful instruments in His plans. This conversion of hearts drove them to proclaim the works of Jesus and proliferate Christianity throughout the world. From a place of love for God, they abandoned fully into the mission Christ had set forth for them, always trusting in His plans, and obedience unto death.
Recently, a member of the family was making some poor choices and the chosen behavior and actions really did not sit well with me. The person is someone I love very much, and it was difficult for me to reconcile her actions with our faith and values. However, speaking up might have caused a further rift in our relationship. This dilemma caused much heartache and many sleepless nights. It would have been easier for me to sweep it under the carpet and ignore the turbulence I felt in my heart. Instead, I sought solace in our Lord, turned to our Father in prayer and sought guidance from the Holy Spirit. Through the grace of God, I was prompted with a message and felt it was really God speaking through me. Guided by the Holy Spirit, the outcome was one of acceptance and respect on both sides. To be able to stand firm in my belief and faith while at the same time, conveying my feelings with clarity and in love, gave me peace. The courage and the power of conviction was so strong that I know only He could provide. Truth be told, I have never felt I had it in me to do something like that. Today, I am reminded of these words I once heard; God does not call the abled but enables those He calls. Despite our sinfulness, God calls us and uses us in ways unimaginable, all He asks of us, is to respond to Him in love!
For Jesus taught us and showed us that Love is the greatest commandment of all! The love of our Father though gentle and tender, is also powerful and strong. His love moves mountains and transforms hearts. And when we stand up in love for our faith, and for Christ, our Lord will in turn stand by us, protect us and bring us home safely to his heavenly kingdom!
(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, enable us, your sinful children, to always turn to you for inspiration and direction in all that we say and do. May our efforts be pleasing to you and when our work is done here on earth, bring us home safely to you.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for calling us to be your children, for choosing us to be your instruments. Even though we are broken, you make us whole again through the work we offer you. Thank you for your mercy, your grace and your love!