Homily for Monday of the 13th Week in Ordinary Time Cycle II
Theme: Feast of Ss Peter and Paul : I HAVE FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT!
By: Fr. Ben Agbo
Homily for Monday June 29 2020
*Act 12 :1-11, 2 Tim 4 :6-18, Matt 16 :13 – 19.
Each time I reflect on the vocation of these two greatest apostles : Peter and Paul, I see a fulfillment of Christ’s promise that ‘he who believes in me will do greater works than I do ‘. But what strikes me even more is the fact that his divine power working in us enables us to work beyond and inspite of ourselves. I want to reflect today on the similarities and differences between Peter and Paul – these two greatest pillars of evangelization:
A. SIMILARITIES :
1. Apostles of the Gentiles : Peter had the 1st revelation of the Christian mission to the Gentile territory which was to begin from the family of Cornelius, Act 10. Paul realized this mission most dramatically when he and Barnabas were sent on the 1st missionary journey from Antioch to the numerous territories that later heard the gospel of Christ.
2. Rescued from the lion’s mouth : Both had experienced several miracles of rescue. In today’s 1st reading, we see how Peter was rescued from Herod’s imprisonment while in the 2nd reading St Paul summarizes his own stories of imprisonments by saying : ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith …The Lord stood by me… So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth ‘.
3. Revelation of our Lord Jesus : Both Peter and Paul experienced special revelations about the person of Christ. In today’s gospel Jesus told Peter : ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my father who is in heaven’. Paul himself had a special revelation on his way to Damascus that forced him to throw in the trowel and follow Christ, Act 9.
4. Matyred for the sake of the gospel : Peter was crucified with his head turned upside down while Paul was brutally beheaded – both in Rome under wicked pagan emperors.
5. Robust enthusiasm : They both had very robust enthusiasm for the gospel of Christ and so became the greatest pillars of faith among the early church. Humility and docility were the end products of divine grace working in them. The cross of Christ was their final portion and heaven was their ultimate reward. 6. They began as great persecutors of Christ : Peter denied Christ three times while Saul killed hundreds of Christians.
7. The Lord himself arrested them : Jesus forgave Peter and took him back to fellowship even when he went back fishing, Jn 21 :1-19. He struck Paul down on his way to Damascus and he had to surrender.
B. DIFFERENCES :
1. Education /Profession : Peter was completely different from Paul in terms of educational and professional background. The former was an uneducated fisherman while the latter was well educated in Hebrew scripture and Law.
2. Temperament : Their temperaments were quite different. Peter was sanguine, flippant and impetuous. Paul was choleric, dense and sober.
3. Gifts /talents : Peter’s charism and special calling was to be the 1st Pope and builder of the early Church institution, Matt 16 :18. Paul was gifted as a great preacher and evangelist to spread the gospel of Christ round the neighborhood of the Gentiles.
As we celebrate these two spiritual giants today – different in their human nature but one in the spirit of Christ , may we harness our natural differences in the one goal of spreading the gospel of Christ. May we all be able to say with Paul at last days of our lives on earth : ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith!’.
May God bless you today!