Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Sts. Paul. I’ve spoken about each of them in different contexts on many occasions. So for today, I’d like to share with you an excerpt from a reflection on this feast day written by my friend Bill Nolan, Pastoral Associate at St. Thomas Apostle church in Minneapolis.
This reflection appeared in the weekly newsletter Bill sends out reflecting on the Sunday Gospel. Here is what he said about Peter and Paul:
Peter and Paul. Apostle to the Jews and Apostle to the Gentiles. One denied knowing Christ, the other relentlessly persecuted followers of The Way. Each had a tendency to speak first and think second, causing them each some trouble. And while no conclusive statement can be made, there is considerable evidence that they didn’t like each other all that much. Yet there they are, standing watch over the political and spiritual center of Roman Catholicism, some might say all of Christianity. Together.
Each heard God’s call in their life. Each made mistakes in interpreting just how to follow that call. Each lead others, each alienated others. Each had an ego. Each defied labels of conservative or liberal in their own time and continue to defy them today. Each wanted some aspects of tradition protected and each wanted the spreading of the Gospel to progress, unburdened by those elements of tradition which no longer served the message of that Gospel. Each was willing to die for their faith. Each did.
The early Church needed both Peter and Paul in order to survive. It needed the tensions that each brought to the table. It needed their respective visions, warnings, and willingness to forge ahead against considerable odds. It needed their holiness as well as their frailty. It needed their humanity.
And how much more the Church of today needs all of these things. So as we celebrate this weekend the Solemnity of these two proud men, let us look for Peter and Paul in our midst. Let us look for the Peter and Paul in ourselves. And let us be grateful for what each continues to bring to the banquet.
Where do you find Peter or Paul in yourself?