'St Peter and St Paul'

Sunday Reflection

28th June 2020

these two men are so important and influential

Today the church celebrates the ministries of St Peter and St Paul;
two of its most important and influential saints because of the enormous influence
that these two men had on the development of the early Church.
Actually, the official date is tomorrow 29th
but as it falls on a Monday it is celebrated on the closest Sunday, which is today.
But if these two men are so important and influential
why are they linked together on the same day
when other saints get their own days?

Well, tradition says that they were martyred on the same day
in Rome by the Emperor Nero AD 64-65.
But that seems very tenuous,
surely there must be others reasons for this combination
apart from the unsubstantiated date of their deaths
and that they were two very human people who heard and responded to God's call?

There must be something common to these two men which speaks to our faith,
something which, if we pay attention to it,
will draw us more deeply into relationship with Jesus;
Peter and Paul must have spoken this message more powerfully together than apart.

They were an "apostolic odd couple" who,
it seems, were and remained "sparring partners"
throughout their common life in the early church.

The New Testament clearly shows that Peter and Saul were bitter opponents at one time -
unable to agree on the issue of whether Gentiles (non-Jews)
should be included in the early Christian Church.
Peter was certain that the "unclean" Gentiles should not be included (Galatians 2:11-13) and,
until he met up with Jesus on Damascus road (Acts 9:1-19),
Saul was just as certain that Jewish followers of Jesus were heretics to be arrested,
tried, and put to death.

However the Council of Jerusalem
seemed to bring about a reconciliation and they taught together there.
But no matter what the issues were,
the lesson to draw from the examples of these two great saints
is to expect the unexpected from God.

Do you remember the old TV show Candid Camera?
Allen Funt, the originator and host of the show
had a famous line he'd say to end each episode:
"Remember, when you least expect it, someone, somewhere, may walk up to you and say,
'Smile! You're on Candid Camera.'"

The lesson to take from Peter and Paul is that God is like that:
When you least expect it, sometime, somewhere,
God may walk up to you say,
"Smile! I've got a different plan for you."

It is not reasoned argument, logical debate, obedience to the Law,
or acceptance of some erudite sayings,
that makes us Christians and children of God.
It is vision, and vocation, and conversion, and grace.
That is what made Paul and Peter who they were,
and made it possible for them to do what they did,
and that is why we honour them as the two pillars of the church
of which Jesus Christ is the foundation.

May we be inspired by their example
and work to promote God's kingdom in love and unity.