My homily for S. Peter & Paul

Solemn Feast of Sts Peter & Paul

The Bishops of England and Wales thought this feast was so important that they moved from yesterday, which was 29thJune, to today. It really is that important. Today the Church honours two of its most important saints. The are the foundation stones upon which the Church has been built. Had they got it wrong the Church would have collapsed a long time ago. 

They were not supermen; they were ordinary people like you and me. I saw this as a given fact but I realize that it is hard for many to see them as ordinary; surely, they are saints and that makes them extraordinary; besides, they are not just ordinary Saints they are Peter and Paul; the two pillars of the Church. And yet, I repeat they were ordinary people; but what made them different is that they believed in an extraordinary God. Look what the Lord do for St Peter when he was in prison. The Jewish authorities are determined to try him and then execute him. He is the big fish that they wanted to catch; and now that they have him they are take every precaution to see he cannot escape. They four squads of four soldiers to guard him in turns: each takes six hours. While he slept there was a solider to his right and to his left. There were two more soldiers at the main entrance. His hands were fastened with double chains. The authorities were taking no chances. It was impossible for him to escape. But he did escape. It was a miracle; an angel sent by God set him free. Peter himself couldn’t believe it; he thought he was having a dream. 

Imagine the effect this had on Peter. With God on His side no one, no force, no power, no authority could stop him preaching the Gospel. We know that Paul also felt the power of God to save him out of trouble. He told Timothy in his letter, ‘The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.’  Like Peter he learned to put his faith in God. And it was because of this faith that these two men achieved such great things. They would be the first to say: it was all God’s doing. 

Later we read in the Gospel how Christ praises Peter then makes this promise to him: “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it.” What confidence this gave Peter to know that God in Christ was behind him, supporting him, giving him the help he needed when he needed it. 

Both men died as martyrs; they chose to die rather than deny their faith. They were not supermen, they were ordinary people who believed in an extraordinary God. If they were here today they would want to repeat that: “we were not supermen, but we believed in an extraordinary God”. This is the God that we believe in. We know we are not supermen and women but like Peter and Paul, we too can put our faith in Him. For he wants to do great things in us. We have Peter and Paul are role models. Let us follow in their footsteps. 

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