Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Peter, Paul and Mary

Today is the solemnity of two great saints, St. Peter and St. Paul.  Although I think that St. Paul wrote some of the most beautiful words ever recorded, I relate more to St. Peter. I picture him as Mr. Edwards from the TV show, Little House on the Prairie. The actor captured so well the image I have of St. Peter as kind-hearted, loyal and sincere, but rough around the edges.

Both these remarkable men were responsible for spreading Christianity throughout the world, but both had pretty rough beginnings.  St. Paul (known initially as Saul) was actually responsible for persecuting the Christians until a significant event occurred on the Road to Damascus.  His conversion story is so fascinating that it would easily net EWTN millions of viewers on "The Journey Home" if it was broadcast today.  It's important to note that he received the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17) and then proclaimed that Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 9:20).  Interestingly, St. Peter did the reverse.  As we heard in today's Gospel, Peter proclaimed that Jesus is "... the Christ, the Son of the living God," (Matt 16:16)  but he did not receive the Holy Spirit until Pentecost. 

Compare pre-Pentecost Peter with post-Pentecost Peter:  Before receiving the Holy Spirit, St. Peter had moments of greatness such as his heartfelt declaration that Jesus is the Son of God, but he also had moments of weakness and cowardice, most notably the three denials in the early morning hours of Good Friday.  Yet after Pentecost, he became worthy of his office as first pope of the new Catholic Church.  He was so filled with courage and humility that he asked to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to die as Jesus did.  That's what the Holy Spirit can do for you!

Of course, Mary ties in with this solemnity because she is known as a "type" of the Church.  This concept is difficult to grasp at first, but read this article to learn more.  Mary was present at the birth of the Church on Pentecost Sunday, where she was filled with the Holy Spirit for the second time.  (The first was at the Annunciation,)

Finally, the Rosary tie-in:  Did the Apostles Pray the Rosary?  This brief but insightful article explains how the Rosary is truly a compendium of the Gospel and why it is essential that we ask Mary to lead us closer to Christ through the Rosary.

Note:  Isn't it interesting that it was just a few weeks ago that the oldest icons of St. Peter and St. Paul were uncovered in the catacombs?  It's almost as if they wanted the most realistic portrayals of themselves to be discovered in time for their solemnity.  I tried to find a clear photo of the icons but couldn't.  If anyone has a link, please share it.  If you'd like to learn more, read this article.

1 comment:

John Severino said...

Very beautiful commentary. I love that St. Peter's first act after receiving the spirit was to give a homily. He was a blessed leader. Thank you for pointing out that St. Peter was different before and after Pentecost. In the ministry I am in we use the Greek for repent, Mentanoia, It's a great reminder that in Jesus we grow and move to his will and not ours.