In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Today we commemorate the Apostles Peter and Paul. Peter was an apostle among Jews; Paul preached the Gospel to the Gentiles. They served two fundamental causes of missionary work of their time – converting the people of Israel and bringing to Christ all the people of the world.
When we think about saints, we imagine their greatness; they appear to us as giants and heroes of the spirit. Their spectacular feats inspire us. Yet, in our perception, the distance to them is so immense that it seems we could never be like them. So we might benefit from a reminder that all the saints – even the apostles – were human. As humans, they had weaknesses, made mistakes, and sometimes acted far below the standard they reached by the end of their earthly lives.
Think of the Apostle Paul. He was a most outstanding preacher who dedicated his whole life to the end to bringing the word of God to the people. But where did he begin? He was travelling from Jerusalem to Damascus to unleash the persecution of Christians like in Jerusalem. On his way, he came face to face with the risen Christ, worshipped Him and became a faithful Christian. He always carried in his memory the twin pillars of his faith: the Cross and the Resurrection. The Saviour died on the Cross, and His resurrection made Paul one of His witnesses.
Now consider the Apostle Peter. At the Last Supper, Christ announced to everyone around the table that they would fall away on his account out of fear. Peter Peter replied, “Even if all fall away from you, I never will.” Jesus answered, “this very night before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” Even before it happened – and it did happen – Jesus retreated to the Garden of Gethsemane in the expectation of His capture and death and asked three of His closest disciples – Peter, John and James to stay with him for these last several hours of his inner struggle. But Peter, like the rest of the two, fell asleep, overcome by sorrow, cold, fatigue and the late hour. Christ came to them three times, hoping that His friends would be awake to spend this last night with him, but found them asleep.
What happened next? Christ was arrested and led to a hideous and unfair trial. Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest, where His teacher and Lord was on trial. But they asked him, “Were you not also were with Him in the garden?” They noticed that he also spoke with a Galilean accent, and Christ and His Disciples were also Galilean. Then Peter swore three times, “I do not know the man you are talking about. He is nobody to me.”
So it began with this. Peter and Paul displayed a human weakness like all of us do from time to time. But at some point, Paul met the resurrected Christ. Peter stood face to face again with His teacher, Who asked him one question. He did not ask him why he had disowned Him. He posed a far more profound and intimidating question: “Peter, do you love Me…?” Christ asked him this question three times, and each time Peter answered sincerely and from his heart, “Yes, O Lord! I love You. You know it.” With this, he meant to say, “You know I disavowed you. You know about weakness and my fear. But You also know that I love You.” From that moment onwards, he never wavered. He remained loyal to the end, up until his death as a martyr.
Now here is what we can all learn from Peter and Paul, the disciples of Christ and His apostles: God’s power is manifest in weakness. Christ says these words to Paul, but he addresses them to all of us. Dedicate yourself fully to God, His truth and His love, and God’s indestructible power will give us strength when we are at our lowest point.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds