June 29, Feasts of Sts. Peter and Paul

Jesus asked Peter three times, "Do you love me?" "You know I do!" was Peter’s repeated and heated response. Paul, at the end of his life, wrote that "all I want is to gain Christ, and be found in him." Whatever else Peter and Paul did for the glory of God and the salvation of souls--and their achievements are inestimable--their inner lives of devotion to and love of Jesus are the examples shouted to us all. These two were quite different men, children of different circumstances and experiences, and they did not always evaluate situations in the same way. Indeed, they differed, too, with other Christians, to the point that many Christians of their acquaintance died thinking that Peter and Paul were wrong in their direction of the Church. For all that, they stand together to encourage their fellow and sister Christians to "know Christ better, love him more fully and serve him more faithfully." Peter and Paul do not ask us to love as they did: what they do ask and hope is that each of us deeply loves Christ in his and her own very personal and unique way. Yes, Peter and Paul are known for their consistent obedience, and for their perceptive understanding of God and the divine mysteries. But they are the first to tell us that life is not fulfilled simply in obedience, but in love, for love, rather than obedience, is the force that makes two people one--in this case, the creature in love with God becomes God, as far as this is in the divine power. For their complete love of Jesus we celebrate Peter and Paul, and pray that each of us enjoys the completeness of unique love of him. Wonderful and memorable are the words by which Peter praised the love that anticipates and responds to our love: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his mercy gave us a new birth to a living faith through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading...Although you have not seen Jesus, you love him: even though you do not see him, you believe in him." As author of the Scriptures, Peter intended those words for his own people: as God is the principal author of the Scriptures, Peter’s words are intended for all of us who believe in God and Jesus. John Kilgallen, S.J.
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