Written by Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.
Readings from: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/062921-Day.cfm
Today we celebrate two great saints, Peter and Paul, and I must admit to being a bit amused when one commentator referred to them as the “apostolic odd couple”. And it’s really true. Peter was impetuous in personality which got him in trouble sometimes, but also passionately motivated to care for the Church he was given to love. Paul was a fiery Pharisee who used his newly found faith and determination to preach Christ’s message.
Stories in the New Testament also clearly show that Peter and Paul even had differing points of view. They couldn’t, for example, agree on whether Gentiles should be included in the early Church. Yet, here we are today honoring both of them together.
What they had in common was their deep faith and commitment to Christ. Their differences in personality, and even that they could have opposing viewpoints, doesn’t negate the fact that they were both zealous about the mission of Christ, and worked tirelessly for the establishment of the young church. Peter was the first Pope and kept the church, whose membership began with the Jewish people, united during those early years. But Paul is noteworthy because as time went on, he began to preach to the non-Jews and was so successful that he brought in huge numbers of Gentiles. Thanks to Paul that we sit here today as a community of faith.
Peter and Paul had distinct roles to play in the history of the church. Whenever you see their statutes, Peter is usually holding a key, symbolizing his duty as head of the church, and Paul is holding the Bible, symbolic of his preaching.
From them, we learn many things, three in particular:
- We don’t have to be perfect for God to work through us. Peter and Paul certainly had their faults, and so do we.
- All of us are called and equipped by God to be missionary disciples. As such, like Peter and Paul, we are witnesses to live and love like Christ.
- We are part of the universal Church of which Peter and Paul are strong pillars, part of the Body of Christ which unites all people into one family of God. Today, in particular, we remember Fr. Peter Henry, who served Christ’s church so well and whose funeral Mass will be celebrated here today at noon, and for his family, in particular his twin brother, Fr. Paul Henry, and their longtime cherished friend, Fr. Walsh, whom we will continue to support with our prayers.
Sts. Peter and Paul, pray for us