The Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
(Acts 12:1-11; II Timothy 4:6-8.17-18; Matthew 16:13-19)
Today we celebrate the two greatest apostles. Peter was named by Jesus in front of his other disciples to lead the Church. Paul’s call took place in a personal encounter with the Lord. He was sent specifically to non-Jews who came to make up the majority of Christians. Both were martyred in Rome around the year 64.
The histories of both Peter and Paul illustrate the Christian belief in a personal God. Today’s first reading shows Peter being miraculously rescued from prison. It came at a critical time. Peter like James was about to be slain by the sword of one of Herod’s henchmen. The Lord, however, spared him so that he might bring Church administration to Rome. Paul always felt himself in close communion with Jesus. The second reading testifies to his sense of Christ assistance at crucial junctures in his mission.
The critical element of Christian belief is that God is personal. He not only exists from eternity as a communion of persons, he also became human to interact with us. The testimony from the lives of both Peter and Paul today shows that his personal presence did not end with his Ascension. Christ comes to each of us as well in varied ways. He is found in the Christian community where divine love is palpable. He is heard in the word of God and even ingested in the Eucharistic sacrament. He is also, quite wonderfully, present in the solitude of our hearts.