Homily June 29, 2014 Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

pp1Today we celebrate two men who were giants in the early Church. Peter(Simon) is the first we celebrate, a fisherman who was impulsive and engaging. He denied Jesus three times, yet he became the leader of those who remained after Jesus’ death. In any group, one has to step forward and lead or pull the others together. In peter’s case the lord chose him. In the church, we know that the Spirit is present as well as the Lord, but in human terms, there is a need for order and pulling things together. As early as Easter Sunday we see the concern and need to run and tell and consult with the Apostles and followers and Peter. We even see John holding back and waiting pp2for Peter for all ready he was seen as the leader.

Next we see the entrance of Paul, a Roman citizen, a pharisee and well-educated in greek and philosophy. At the outset Paul was persecuting the church, tracking down and executing Christians. pp4His conversion is recounted in Acts, but his past made it difficult for the Jews to trust him.That fact and his knowledge of greek is the most likely reason that his ministry went out to the gentile world. As in any time, there were internal struggles in the church, Jewish Christians assuming that their faith would simply carry on the old law as the Jews had practised it over the centuries. There were controversies arising especially in places where there were Jewish and Gentile converts present. Jews would find it offensive to eat and socialize with the uncircumcised and those not following the old law.

At that time around 50 AD or so, Paul and a delegation went to Jerusalem to discuss and decide the issue. We see Peter, Paul, James, and the elders convened and prayed and decided the course Christianity should take. pp6 councilAgain, we should note that Peter called together or convened the gathering which in the Holy Spirit discerned what was going on and how they solved it for peace and moving on in preaching the Gospel.

Paul as we know was well-traveled and prolific in writing even if everything attributed to him was not his. He established and spread the word throughout the Roman empire til he was martyred.

The history of Peter is a lot less clear. But both men were foundational to the church and both were tireless preachers of the Word. Both were called by Jesus, though in much different ways, but both responded and listened. Each went through a life changing event, taking on a whole new way of life. In celebrating them today, we celebrate the church, the Spirit leading and protecting us as even today it continues on. The bishopric continues, our communities convene and carry on.While we ourselves don’t travel to far off places, we carry on harvesting the fruit planted and prepared for us by Peter and Paul

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