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The Solemnity of St Peter and St Paul
Apostles (entered heaven around 64)
Can I bare my heart to you? I think it’s safe, since you probably won’t read this till after midnight, as your downing a couple Twinkies and gulping another can of Jolt (you see, I know why you find it so hard to get up in the mornings and spend a little time in prayer; a few simple adjustments to your schedule and diet would do wonders for your prayer life). It’s just that today is June 29th. June 29th. For almost 2000 years June 29th has been the day that Christians commemorate the final sacrifice of the two pillars of the early Church, Peter and Paul. And I can remember as if it were yesterday the glorious celebrations that they are having today in the Vatican. The Papal Mass, the crowing of the statue of St Peter in the Basilica, the teeming flocks of pilgrims giving praise to God for the great gift of the Church, and the crisp and delicious Roman breeze of early summer making every pilgrim’s face smile. How I wish I could be there. How I wish I could join my voice to theirs, extending the unbroken testimony of God’s faithfulness into another year.
That’s what it’s all about, really, God’s faithfulness. He promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church built on the rock foundation of Peter, Prince (from the Latin for “first”) of the Apostles. (Funny how last century’s excavations showed incontrovertibly that Peter’s tomb is indeed right under his Basilica’s dome – an architectural symbol of the truth of Christ’s promise.) And though Peter had to follow the Lord’s footsteps and die the death of crucifixion (although he was crucified upside down, upon his own request – he felt unworthy to be crucified as Jesus had been), his faith did not fail.
And though Paul, a latecomer to the Apostolic ranks (remember how he was the Jews’ top anti-Christian persecutor until our Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus?), had to suffer, as he explained, “still more, with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, far worse beatings, and numerous brushes with death. Five times at the hands of the Jews I received forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I passed a night and a day on the deep; on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights, through hunger and thirst, through frequent fastings, through cold and exposure. And apart from these things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches,” (2 Corinthians 11:25) even so, at the end of his life, just before he was beheaded, he could say what I so dearly hope to be able to say when my own last day comes: “I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have redeemed my pledge; I look forward to the prize that is waiting for me, the prize I have earned. The Lord, the judge whose award never goes amiss, will grant it to me when that day comes; to me, yes, and all those who have learned to welcome his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)…
Through the faithful love of these two saints, and the many other saints (canonized and not canonized) who have kept the faith in an unbroken chain of fidelity to God’s will since the very beginning, God has made known his undying and untiring love. Yes, it would be nice to be there today, to celebrate it at the geographical heart of things. But I do not mourn, for I am here at my own post, watching and praying in defense of the eternal Kingdom. And I hope you are doing the same.
Love, Uncle Eddy