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Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

​​ My dear encountered couples:

Today we honor both Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and Paul, the Apostle of the Nations. The one had denied the Master; the other had persecuted him. The one failed him through weakness and cowardice. The other failed him through ignorance and prejudice.

How many times had Peter expressed his faith and his love in Jesus and in the final analysis did not live up to his words? How much like us he was, human, weak, changeable, and fickle. And yet Jesus found qualities of leadership in Peter, qualities upon which the Holy Spirit could build on. Paul the other apostle we honor failed the Lord through ignorance and prejudice. But by God’s grace Peter and Paul were transformed into beacons of light for the whole world to see and praise the goodness and greatness of God. We need their powerful intercession, never to be deterred by the circumstances of this mortal life.

I just read a beautiful story entitled A Parable of the Bridge Builders describing the various responses to the Spirit of God in the history of the Church and the situation of the Church today.

Visualize a roaring river that separates a village from a great city. A group of villagers come together and despite the danger, take on the hard work of constructing a bridge. They endure hours of backbreaking labor, the ridicule of onlookers, and the danger of the treacherous river itself. Finally, the bridge is completed. The villagers discovered the wonders of the city they could barely imagine from their side of the river. Some villagers take on the work of maintaining the bridge, repairing and replacing broken planks and cables. Others assist the elderly and sick across the bridge, so they can receive care in the city that is unavailable to them in the village.

Of course, there are those who ignore the bridge, happy to stay in their village, wanting nothing to do with the city. There are also those who regularly use the bridge but contribute nothing to its upkeep nor provide assistance to other users. And then there are the despicable few who devise schemes to scare people away from the bridge or control access to the bridge for their own power and profit.

This parable is a good picture of the Church. The early apostles and missionaries under the leadership of Peter and Paul were the bridge builders to the Kingdom of Christ. The bishops, priests and religious help maintain and repair the bridge. Contemporary lay leaders assist others crossing the bridge.

And of course, there are always some professional critics who do nothing but criticize the efforts of others, and there are some exploiters within the Church, who for their own benefit put up barriers and difficulties for others to cross the bridge to the message of Jesus.

However, under the guidance of the Spirit of God, our hope is enlivened, and we go forward, building up the Kingdom of God in our individual lives and the world, knowing that as St. Paul states in Romans: “With God on our side, who can be against us?”

As we celebrate the feast of saints Peter and Paul today, we are given the example of two people who were, in human terms, weak and frail, but who through God’s grace were made strong and powerful witnesses of God’s love for us revealed in Jesus. May this same grace transform our lives as well so that we might be passionate advocates for a world that is free from racism, exclusion, and any form of injustice. For this is the world that as disciples of Jesus we are called to build.May he guide us and bless us as we journey with him in building God’ kingdom on earth!

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