Sunday, June 29, 2014

Somenity of Saint Peter & Saint Paul

Dear Fathers, Friends in Christ, 

Acts 12:1-11
Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18
Matthew 16:13-19

This Sunday we celebrate the feast of the two most important Apostles of the early Church. Simon Peter, the fisherman, strong and sturdy of build with thick curly hair (as we know from an early medallion), was outgoing, generous, and impetuous. Paul, the intellectual, was thin-faced and balding, with deep-set piercing eyes.

Both were hand-picked by Jesus to be the foundation pillars of the Church. When Peter, by divine inspiration, proclaimed publicly that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, Christ promised on the spot to make him the rock on which He would build His Church. Paul, a persecutor of Christians, was dramatically converted and given infused knowledge of the Gospel, which he then tirelessly preached throughout the Roman Empire. As the readings tell us today, Peter was miraculously freed from prison and certain death, so that he might preach and perform miracles of healing until his crucifixion in Rome many years later.

In St. Paul's second letter to Timothy, we find his eloquent last testament. "I have fought the good fight, I have run the race. Now there awaits me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the just Judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for His appearance." He was beheaded in Rome around the same time as Peter's death.

At our baptism, we promised to "put on Christ," that is, to be like Saints Peter and Paul, a living likeness of God's truth, goodness and love for all to imitate. May we take today's feast as a time for renewal of our promises to preach the Gospel according to our gifts, and to continue the work begun by these two great saints. We may never experience the cross or the sword, but we can expect opposition, even ridicule. By suffering with the Church, we too will gain the crown of everlasting glory. All it takes is our complete giving up of our own wills for that of Christ the Lord. Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.

Father Ed Bakker 
Anglican Catholic Church/Original Province 
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne