“Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. Both of them came to be seen as having different roles to play within the leadership of the Church: Peter in witnessing to the Lordship of Christ, and Paul developing an understanding of its meaning for Christ’s followers. Jew and Gentile alike, Peter and Paul have been remembered together on this day from the very early days of the Church.
For this day we have a sermon delivered by St Augustine, who died in the 5th century. Here are some of his words for our prayerful reflection.
‘This day has been made holy by the martyrdom of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul. We are, therefore, not talking about some obscure martyrs. For as scripture says, ‘Their voice has gone forth to all the world, and their message to the ends of the earth.’ These martyrs realised what they taught: they followed the path of integrity, they confessed the truth, and they died for it.
Saint Peter, the foremost of the apostles and a passionate lover of Christ, heard his merits acknowledged when the Lord addressed him: ‘I say to you that you are Peter.’ For he had himself said: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Then Christ said: ‘And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.’ Therefore, I will build my Church on you, for you are Peter. The name Peter comes from the word for rock, just as the word Christian comes from Christ. In a virtually unique way then, Peter can be said to represent the entire Church. And because of the role which he alone had, he merited to hear the words: ‘To you I shall give the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’…
Paul emerges out of Saul, the lamb out of the wolf; at first an enemy, he becomes an apostle; at first a persecutor, he becomes the preacher. The Lord showed him the things that he too had to suffer for his name: chains, beatings, imprisonment, shipwrecks. The Lord sustained Paul in his sufferings, and brought him to this day.
Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one, even although they were martyred on different days. Peter went ahead, Paul followed. Let our way, then, be made straight in the Lord. It is a narrow, stony, hard road we tread; and yet with so many gone before us, we shall find the way smoother. The Lord himself trod this way, the unshakeable apostles and the holy martyrs likewise. So let us celebrate this feast day made holy by the blood of these two apostles. Let us embrace their faith, their life, their labours, their sufferings, their preaching, and their teaching.'”
– From: “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris”