Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
On this feast honoring the apostles
Paul, the word
to remember is "grace". Saints Peter and Paul were masterpieces of
grace -- God's
grace. They were each changed in a radical way by
grace. They were
persevered unto death by
grace. The New Catechism says that
grace is "favor, the
free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of
God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life".
Paul says in today's
"I have fought
the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith". He did all
that by grace; he did not do it by his own power -- and he was well aware of that fact. As
he himself acknowledged a few lines later, ". . .
the Lord stood by me and gave
me strength, so that through me the preaching task might be completed".
In today's gospel scene from
Jesus as "the Messiah, the Son of the living God". And how does
respond? He says, "Blest are you, Simon son of John! No mere man has revealed
this to you, but My heavenly Father". In other words, "Peter, this
insight has come to you by the grace of God, not from your own human wisdom".
transformed Peter from a
impulsive individual into a
leader--the first pope.
transformed Paul from a
hateful persecutor into a
great apostle to the
Gentiles. Paul said in 1Corinthians 15,
the grace of God, I am what I am". I can just imagine Peter hearing those words
from Paul's mouth and responding, "Amen, brother, that makes two of us"!
Unfortunately, we live in a world right now where
is not taken very seriously. Just go to a secular bookstore sometime and check out the
size of the "Self-help" section. Normally, it's huge! It certainly will be much
bigger than the religion section! That tells me that most people today are looking to
themselves, and not to
God, for the
solutions to their
problems. Think, too, of how many
Mass regularly; think of how many
Mass; think of how easy it is to
prayer. Why do such things happen? They
happen because people easily lose their awareness of how much they need
God, of how
much they need His grace, for everything! Lest we forget, our very existence is the work
of grace! As Saint Paul once put it, "In God we live and move and have our being".
It makes a big difference when a person does understand his need for the
Lord. Recently a
man came to see me for Confession. When he walked in, I must say I was pleasantly shocked
by his appearance! This man is a recovering alcoholic who, with
God's help, has really
gotten his life together in the last couple of years. I said to him, "Tom, you
look great -- have you been working out"? He said, "Yes, I've started
jogging". I said, "You know, it's great to see you doing so well.
You're a real work of God's grace". He responded, "Yes, but I need more
of it! That's why I'm here".
praise God, has the attitude of
Paul; that is to say, Tom has the attitude
that turns ordinary people into great saints -- he knows how much he needs
God for his
sobriety, and for everything else in his life. Let us
pray at that we will have this very
same attitude in our hearts.