Peter and Paul.? The twin pillars of the Church were never separated either in the ancient liturgy of the iconography
To Peter was given the responsibility for guiding and strengthening the other apostles and for building up the Church.? There couldnt be a more urgent task in the new community of faith and yet it was given to one who was, apparently, not only unpolished but impetuous and unsteady in his own commitment ?to the point of denial!
Paul started off (as Saul) persecuting the believers with a zest which left no one in any doubt about his hostility to Jesus and his disciples.
Yet God used both these men ?with their limitations- to do great things for the People of God.? Jesus prayed for Peter and then showed his confidence in him by entrusting the Church to his guidance and care.? When Paul was en route to Damascus to further the persecution of Christians, Jesus appeared to him in a moment of dramatic conversion which transformed Paul into the greatest missionary in our tradition.
Yet their human limitations remained; when they met in Jerusalem the intensity of their enthusiasms led to differences of opinion.? In the power of the Spirit this meeting of the two pillars led to a vital decision about the very meaning of the Gospel and how it is to be lived in different cultural settings.
It was in Rome, where they were both martyred, that they were finally united in that love which they strove to promote.? In order to avoid stagnation the Church of Peter and Paul must reconcile stability and movement, the overall view of the whole body and the particular intervention of a charism.? The Preface of their feast puts it succinctly:
Peter, our leader in faith,
Paul, its fearless preacher.
Despite our limitations and failures, we too are called to take the lead and to preach the good news with our lives.? We have todays saints to inspire us in that calling.
Happy feast day!
Fr Sean Wales,C.Ss.R.